Interview with Jody Ridgeway for International Volunteers Day

Jody Ridgeway is Faculty Director for the Faculty for Trades and Resources at TAFE Queensland (East Region), the East Coast Queensland regional co-coordinator for WorldSkills Australia, a WorldSkills Australia life member and – most recently – the recipient of a Certificate of Merit from WorldSkills International. For International Volunteers Day, we asked Jody about her experience as a WSA volunteer.

Jody (right) at the 2019 WorldSkills International Competition in Kazan, Russia.

How long have you been a volunteer at WSA?

I started my WorldSkills journey in 1988 in NSW- Newcastle before moving to QLD.

Once established in QLD I soon got back into it – however I guess I really committed to volunteering about 14 years ago

I am a proud life member.

During this time I have undertaken a variety of roles :

I started out by volunteering as a scrutineer/time keeper in the Hairdressing competitions, then I gradually progressed through to convening regional competitions.

Some of the other roles I have undertaken are :

  • Judge
  • Trainer and Coach
  • Mentor
  • Fundraiser -Chief sausage cooker at Bunnings
  • Team Leader – National events
  • International Supporters Tour Team Leader
  • Panellist
  • Regional Committee member
  • Main Regional Contact
  • Regional Chair

My current role as the East Coast Regional Chair enables me to work with educators , volunteers and industry to provide opportunities for our young people to participate in the WorldSkills events.

What made you want to volunteer and why WSA?

I like to think that we all reach a point in our career there we reflect on how far we have come and what opportunities our passion for our craft and skills have provided in our time.

When this happens you know that you have more to give – you genuinely want to see others thrive in their industry-pay it forward if you like.

WSA provides the perfect path for young people to embrace their skills, test their resilience and strive for skill excellence.

Through WSA I have been able to encourage young people to take the opportunity to participate in WorldSkills events from high-school through to post-trade level.

I have been able to share my knowledge and skills across a broad range of areas, support competitors , employers , families and friends not only through the training and preparation for events but for the complete journey.

Through my role at TAFE Queensland I have been fortunate to be able to support others to share the experience with colleagues and educators who can see the positive impact the WorldSkills experience has to individuals and their industries.

I have also travelled all around Australia and to several overseas countries, visiting places I never dreamt that I would ever see (like Russia)  and fostering connections that I never dreamt possible.

The networks, experiences and relationships formed have also helped strengthen and develop my own skills-building confidence to progress at various points in my career.

More so –  apart from the amazing networks you make with like minded people from all across the world – it’s that  proud feeling you get when you see young people who took a chance and competed in a little regional competition – standing centre stage at an international event – knowing that you played some small part in their life-changing WorldSkills  journey.

It’s knowing that you are a part of a movement that is dedicated to skills excellence across the globe

The very essence of WorldSkills is what we all need sometimes to remind us of why we do what we do.

Certificate of Merit

I am super proud of this award. It’s one of those forever moments, like receiving your life member pin … it stays with you.

Receiving the Certificate of Merit was an incredible surprise and very humbling – particularly when I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to do what we do.

We continue to volunteer for WSA because we truly believe in the philosophy , we see firsthand the amazing outcomes everyone involved achieves and know that collectively we can drive skills excellence across the world.

Like most things, great work takes many hands and there is always a team of people going out of their way to help you in one way or another so that we can provide the best experience for the participants (regardless if they are competitors, family members, employers, coaches, trainers, industry representatives etc) nothing is achieved in unison.

To future volunteers

If you believe in supporting skill excellence and are thinking about volunteering but not sure how to start or contribute – just take a chance !

You can be involved in as much or as little as you like.

There are so many different ways you can participate in Worldskills,  regardless of the role you may undertake – they are all just as essential as each other .