World stage beckons for gold medal-winning Gympie apprentice
GOLD medal-winning Pie Creek apprentice Patrick Brennan will take his prodigious skills to the global stage if he is selected to represent Australia at next year's WorldSkills international competition in Russia.
The 20-year-old joins 22 other young Australians picked to compete for spots in the national line-up for the "world's biggest skills excellence competition” to be held in Kazan next August.
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Mr Brennan, a TAFE Queensland student and employee at Tony Stephens Refrigeration and Air Conditioning in Gympie, earned preliminary selection when he claimed gold in the R&A category of the WorldSkills Australia national championships in Sydney last month.
"It's a great opportunity, I'm really thankful to my employers, TAFE and Carl Balke (training manager) for all the support,” he said.
"He (Carl) helped me and a few of the other boys train for nationals, he lives and breathes it.
"He pushes us as far as we can go and knows how to prepare.”
Mr Brennan and fellow R&A finalist Chris McNally will fly to Phillip Island for a four-day training camp in September, where they will develop specific programs with Mr Balke.
A self-confessed "country boy”, Mr Brennan said he would embrace the opportunity to experience unfamiliar places as part of his competitive journey.
"I've only flown once or twice, and that includes the Sydney trip for nationals,” he said.
"I'm definitely keen to go further around Australia and hopefully Russia.
"We're being assessed on how we talk to people and how we hold ourselves, not just how we work, so I'm doing everything I can to be selected.”
WorldSkills Australia CEO Brett Judd said he hoped Australia would "maintain and improve” on its 10th place finish at last year's championships in Abu Dhabi.
"Representing Australia at the World Championships, which can be likened to a skill Olympics, would be a once in a lifetime opportunity for the Skills Squad team members,” Mr Judd said.
"We are committed to provide them with the best opportunity to prove that they should be selected to compete in Russia next year.
"It's wonderful to see the opportunities these young people are being given through their trades and skills.”