In 2019 eyes will turn to Russia, not for the FIFA World Cup, but for the 45th Worldskills Competition.
The city of Kazan will play host to a range of apprentices who are vying for a place in the Winner’s Circle for their event.
One hopeful competitor is Melbourne Polytechnic’s Diego Calderon, a student in the Certificate III in Bricklaying/Blocklaying, who won the South-eastern regional competition for bricklaying in Victoria.
Diego will be heading to the 2018 nationals in Sydney to face off against the best apprentices from 35 other Australian regions.
Diego says he faced some pretty stiff competition at the regionals, and he was stoked to just be invited to the medal ceremony, let alone win it.
Currently working as a second year apprentice for Highgrade Bricklaying, Diego spent hours practicing for the competition at Melbourne Polytechnic’s Heidelberg campus.
“I went to school and did the same wall a few times to practice... They had everything [I needed] there,” Diego said.
Craig Clayton, one of Diego’s teachers at Melbourne Polytechnic, says he spent a lot of time with Diego over three practice sessions and that he has watched him take like a duck to water to bricklaying.
“Diego first came to us to do his pre-apprenticeship. The pre-app is usually completed in 12-14 weeks, but Diego completed his in 9-10 weeks.
“He was that good we had some of the carpentry teachers actually come over and have a look at what he was doing, because he was just a one-off.
“All the teachers here were very impressed with what he could do… he’s just good at what he does, very much a perfectionist.
“His boss at Highgrade Bricklaying, Julian Larobina, has been very impressed with him. He’s loyal, and whatever he does, he does well and with speed.”
Craig says Diego’s education has been accelerated because Julian has been very accommodating: “Julian has never held Diego back from coming to school, or coming to do the extra training when he went to Worldskills, so I think he definitely deserves a bit of a shout out.”
For the regional competition Diego and eleven apprentice competitors were given a set of drawings from which they had eight hours to build a complex ornamental wall.
“It was single brick, I had to cut a lot of different sized bricks… there was another wall going off it. It was an artsy sort of wall,” said Diego.
After eight hours, a team of judges from various schools spent four hours assessing the walls before awarding Diego the gold by some distance.
Craig reckons Diego has a good shot at getting to Russia. “He’s got as good a chance, if not a little bit better than some of them that will be there. I’m not going to put my house on it, but he does have a very good chance, to be honest.”
Diego started out in bricklaying with a pre-apprenticeship course, four days a week. Here he learned the basic skills of laying bricks, the tools required, health and safety and obtaining a White Card.
The course also includes a week of work experience with a potential employer about halfway through the course. Then hopefully from there students can continue with the employer for one day a week until the course ends and they can move into a full apprenticeship, just like Diego has done.
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Melbourne Polytechnic operates across seven campuses and five specialist training centres throughout Melbourne. The institute delivers high quality vocational and higher education in industry-standard facilities.