Challenge tests trade skills among the world’s best

May 22, 2024

Antoinette Jackson and TAFE SA

Some of the world’s top young apprentices and trainees will be showcasing their skills in Melbourne this month (May), competing in the Global Skills Challenge in the lead up to the WorldSkills International Championship later this year.

Among them will be WA-based painting apprentice Antoinette Jackson, who has been fine-tuning her skills under the watchful eye of Steven Baliga, TAFE SA Painting and Decorating lecturer and WorldSkills judge.

Last month, Antoinette – Australia’s only competitor in the Painting and Decorating category - spent a week at TAFE SA’s Tonsley Campus practising her skills in painting, wallpapering and design in a competition-style booth created by Steven, who has been a WorldSkills judge for more than 12 years.

“I’ve got a few boards in my shed but nothing like this booth,” Antoinette says.

“Without this week at TAFE SA, the global competition would have been so tough.”

Antoinette, 19, will use the four-day Melbourne challenge to test her skills under competition pressure against participants from destinations such as Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei and United Arab Emirates before she heads to Lyon, France for WorldSkills International.

She is one of 33 people chosen to represent Australia at the international event, which promotes excellence in vocational education and training through a skills-based competition.

Australia sends a team to WorldSkills International every two years, with selection based on success at regional and national competitions.

TAFE SA is committed to supporting South Australians participating in WorldSkills. This year, TAFE SA is hosting regional competitions which will give South Australian apprentices and trainees the chance to vie for selection at the 2025 national championships.

Antoinette, 19, discovered her interest in painting during Year 10 work experience with Bob the Painter in Albany.

“We worked on a massive job and I was sanding house walls and I loved it, and by the end of the week I was fortunate to be offered an apprenticeship,” she says.

She trained at MPA Skills in Perth where she was encouraged to enter the Apprentice of the Year competition, gaining second place and booking herself a spot in the national WorldSkills competition in 2023.

Despite a brief “struggle with the wallpaper”, Antoinette’s performance at the national competition was outstanding and earned her a spot in the international team.

“Preparing for WorldSkills is challenging and it takes a lot of effort, but it’s rewarding and you get to meet really good people in the trade,” she says.

“I thought I was going to be a painter in Albany and here I am at TAFE SA and in September I’ll be in France.”

TAFE SA’s Steven Baliga, who has been involved in WorldSkills since 2009 and has been judging since 2012, says the painting and decorating competition tests skills such as site preparation and technique through to finished results, as well as creativity and speed.

For more information about upcoming regional competitions, please visit the WorldSkills website.