One teaches one of the only Electrotechnology Certificate II Career Start courses available in our Diocese. The other is one of his students, excelling against those across Sydney to rise in the competition ranks. Now, both Marks from Holy Spirit College, Bellambi - Mr Hamlet and Mr Mancini - are off to the WorldSkills VETiS National Championships 2018 to battle it out with the best of the best in electrotechnology.
WorldSkills is Australia’s largest vocational education and excellence competition, involving a series of work-simulated projects based on industry-standard frameworks, designed and administered by practising teachers, skills experts and industry professionals in a variety of trades and skills categories.
Competitors are assessed on their knowledge, practical competence and employability skills against precise criteria. This starts at grassroots level with regional rounds, and those successful progress - all the way to the national and even international championships.
And the end of last year, students from within our Catholic Education Diocese of Wollongong RTO successfully participated in a number of the regional competitions, including the VETiS (Vocational Education Training in Schools) Electrotechnology Competition at Bankstown in October last year. Competitors from Holy Spirit achieved great results, particularly first-placed student, Mark Mancini.
The student: Mark Mancini
Since his victory at Bankstown, Mark Mancini has gone on to claim a spot in the NSW VETiS Electrotechnology Team that will compete in the most prestigious skills and trade competition in the country - the 2018 WorldSkills VETiS National Championships - over this coming weekend (2-4 June) at Darling Harbour. With 500+ competitors, 159 medals to be won and approximately 21,000 people expected to visit the event, this will be a fantastic opportunity for Mark to display his skills.
“I am thoroughly looking forward to the competition next week. I think it will be a great experience, and a great opportunity for me to test the knowledge I’ve gained,” the 17 year old said.
He and the best young electrical students from each state will have to display great focus and skill to complete six challenging tasks over three days of competition, including five hours of wiring systems assembly; four hours on a workshop toolbox; three hours each on an electronics project, laboratory project and termination/jointing project; and another two hours on wiring preparation.
“I expect hard competitors; no competition is easy. We have to abide by strict rules and regulations for the competition. I am open-minded, I don’t mind where I place in the competition; I’m taking it as one big learning opportunity.”
Now in Year 12, Mark said it was an easy choice to study the course for his senior years at Holy Spirit because “it was something different, something new, and only our school was offering it as a subject at school.”
“Electrotechnology is basically the application of electricity in technology. It can be studied by general electricians to people such as electrical engineers. I find it so interesting because I am able to learn new skills and techniques that may help me in the future and learn so many new things about the electrical world - all without having to go to TAFE or university.”
The teacher: Mark Hamlet
Mark’s teacher at Holy Spirit, Mr Mark Hamlet, was also recently announced as Team Leader for NSW VETiS Electrotechnology Team at the competition. Mark has been running the course at the College since 2010, building the electrotechnology training facilities at the College from the ground up - facilities all built and wired by the electrotechnology students themselves over the past eight years - with the goal of being able to provide the best training and preparation for students to become great apprentices.
Mr Hamlet said he was excited for such a high level of competition and was very confident that Mark Mancini would perform well.
“We entered the regional WorldSkills VETiS heat with very little preparation time and Mark was up against students attending trade training centres. At the time, some of the skills Mark was assessed on during the competition we had not yet covered in our class time at school [so] I taught him the extra skills during lunchtimes in the weeks leading up to the event. For him to then go on and win the heat is a credit to his dedication and ability," Mr Hamlet said.
“Mark has the ability to pick up new skills very quickly and he has very good analytical and problem solving skills which will stand him in good stead. He has, and continues to be, an excellent student of which I am very proud.”
Why choose a VET subject?
Mark Hamlet said he would encourage students to consider studying VET courses and the wider selection of interest areas and skills they offered, compared to standard school subjects.
“VET can range from trades to running businesses to working in the retail and hospitality industries. This gives students who may not wish to attend university other options and directions,” he said.
“When the students are undertaking a VET course they are treated as adults, not school students. This means they have more direct responsibility but also more freedom to choose their own career paths.
“One of the great benefits for students choosing VET courses is that students can begin training in areas that they may wish to work in when they leave school, before they complete their HSC. This provides them with a distinct advantage over other school leavers when the time comes to applying for jobs.
“For example, the units of competency studied in our electrotechnology course are directly taken from the electrical trade course. Therefore, by the time our students have finished their HSC, they are also 6-12 months into their trade course, should they wish to apply to become an apprentice.
“VET courses are also nationally recognised, as opposed to the HSC which is a NSW qualification only. Being a national qualification allows for transportability and recognition of their achievements anywhere in Australia.”
Having not only built specialist facilities, but developed Holy Spirit’s own delivery of the course content too, Mark Hamlet and the rest of the school’s VET teachers are eager to be able to offer the top training and opportunities for its electrotechnology students.
“Our goal now is to be the best. We constantly review and look at ways to improve our content delivery approach."
As for one of many successful products of Holy Spirit’s program, Mark Mancini, his plans after graduating from high school are to certainly use the electrotechnology skills he has gained. He said it was now just deciding exactly how to apply them.
“The possibilities are endless!” he said, “I’m not one hundred per cent sure what career path I want to go down yet, I’m tossing around a type of engineering or construction management.”
We wish Mark Mancini and the NSW VETiS Electrotechnology Team the best this weekend as they take on the country’s most skilled young tradespeople - each battling for victory for their state and their individual place on the Australian Skillaroos team to compete at the international 45th WorldSkills Competition in Kazan, Russia next year.