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CIT students win four medals WorldSkills nationals

Published: 21 Aug 2023

Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) students have claimed four medals at the WorldSkills national championships in Melbourne, including gold to 19-year-old Refrigeration and Air Conditioning apprentice Floyd Lucas-Baxter.

Thirteen students from the ACT, including 12 from CIT, qualified for the biennial 'Skills Olympics' that tests almost 500 of the best young trade students in Australia against each other in competition. CIT's Cooper Camden-Smith snared silver in Wall and Floor Tiling, while Charlie Elms (Cabinetmaking) and Lachlan Usher (Plastering) each claimed bronze.

CIT student Liam Dowling was also recognised with a Certificate of Excellence in Carpentry, while Rifaat Romzi received the Brody Young Star Award for the most potential creative dishes in Cookery.

CIT's Interim CEO Christine Robertson said it was a wonderful result for the students, their teachers and mentors, but also more broadly for the ACT.

"The ACT is grappling with a skills shortage, like elsewhere across the country, but these tremendous results reflect the CIT's ongoing commitment to excellence in vocational education and training as we build the ACT's workforce of the future," Ms Robertson said. "Today marks the start of National Skills Week, and these students are learning the personal and professional tools to become champions for their trades and the ACT community.

"To win a medal at WorldSkills Australia is a huge achievement, it is formal endorsement of the dedication and passion these students have for their trades. I'm confident, too, that all 13 ACT students will have grown through this experience, boosting their potential to become emerging industry leaders of the future.

"The ACT region is relatively small in population, but the proportionally big contingent we qualified for WorldSkills is testament to our ambitious student cohort and the exceptionally dedicated teachers who mentor them on their career pathways."

Floyd Lucas-Baxter, 19, and a third-year apprentice with OCR ACT, said the three days of competition had sapped him of energy but filled him with confidence as he takes the next steps in his career. "I was so tired by the end of it," Lucas-Baxter said. "I've had harder physical days on the tools, but this was long days on your feet and there was no rest from thinking about the tasks. It was so hard, there was a time crunch, and in refrigeration you need to do things in a specific order of events or there's no coming back. I had to be on point the whole time."

Lucas-Baxter credited the support of his CIT teacher Paul Wright, his employers (Cooper Lee, Mick Spence and Zanda Miladinovic) and his mentor for the World Skills competition, Ryan Hanns (Airmaster). "It's taken a toll on them too, they've been so supportive to let me prepare," Lucas-Baxter said. "Refrigeration is clearly something I'm meant to do, and everything's fallen into place."

CIT's other medallists also acknowledged support from teachers and mentors. Cooper Camden-Smith, 20, employed with Michael Croker Tiling said: "Michael Croker and [CIT's] Martin Stallard have been instrumental in my development. They have provided valuable insights, shared their expertise, and helped me understand all about tiling. Their guidance has been crucial in preparing me for the competition and has greatly contributed to my growth as a tiler."

Lachlan Usher, 21, employed by Blake Tabone of Southern Coast Plastering said: "My teacher Scott [O'Donnell] from CIT has been a massive help and motivator during this whole thing. He's been doing his best getting me ready and spending countless hours going over the plans with me."

Charlie Elms, 21, works for furniture maker Rolf Barfoed and said: "Rolf has been my mentor in preparation for WorldSkills. He's done it before when he was an apprentice and went all the way to the international WorldSkills competition. He has helped me a lot."

CIT congratulates the entire team that represented the ACT at the WorldSkills national championships.

STUDENTS: Anthony Jenson (Joinery); Billy Stevenson (Painting and Decorating); Caci Mitchell (Retail Baking – Bread); Charlie Elms (Cabinetmaking); Cooper Camden-Smith (Wall and Floor Tiling); Declan Inglis (Plumbing and Heating); Floyd Lucas-Baxter (Refrigeration and Air Conditioning); Hamish Jerks (Electrical Installation); Lachlan Lawrence (Landscape Construction); Lachlan Usher (Wall and Ceiling Plastering); Liam Dowling (Carpentry); Marcus Walton (Landscape Construction); Rifaat Romzi (Cookery).

MENTORS: Michael Blasch (CIT, Landscape Construction); Marty Stallard (CIT, Wall and Floor Tiling); Adam Teer (CIT, Painting and Decorating); Scott O'Donnell (CIT, Wall and Ceiling Plastering); Rolf Barfoed (CIT Cabinetmaking); Dammika Hatharasinghe (CIT, Retail Baking – Bread); David Damour (CIT, Retail Baking – Bread); Marty Jud (CIT, Joinery); Rodney Apps (CIT, Plumbing and Heating); Paul Wright (CIT, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning); Mal Bromley (CIT, Carpentry); Telly Papas (CIT, Carpentry); Brad Walters (CIT, Cookery); Ryan Hanns (Airmaster, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning); Mick Apps (NECA, Electrical Installation); Renard Saunders (NECA, Electrical Installation).

ACT JUDGES: Adam Teer; Martin Stallard; Michael Blasch; Leigh Kleinig; Scott O'Donnell.