WSA welding gun jumps the puddle to compete stateside

One of the most rewarding parts of working at WorldSkills Australia is watching our competitors achieve new heights in their professions.  Countless pathways and challenges – both anticipated and unexpected – give them valuable experiences that will shape their futures.

The latest WorldSkills Australia competitor to step up to the plate is Skills Squad member Kallon McVicar from NSW.  After winning the gold medal in Welding at the 2014 WorldSkills Australia National Competition in Perth, Kallon was invited to compete in the American Welding Society’s International Final Weld-Off in Huntsville, Alabama.  This event is the decider for Team USA, with their top three welding competitors facing off to win a place on the team for the 43rd WorldSkills International Competition in São Paulo, Brazil (WSC2015) later this year.  Sponsored by the Welding Institute of Australia (WTIA), Kallon represented Australia proudly as one of only two international welders invited to compete.

Though the challenge itself is routine to these competitors, the overall experience isn’t for the faint-hearted.  Overseas competitors face a number of additional obstacles when they compete, including using unfamiliar tools and jet lag.  “It’s exciting but we’re thrown into the deep end a bit.  When we get there, we all use American stuff – everything is different over there and I’ve never used it before.”

Kallon’s Training Manager, Paul Condran views this competition as an important and integral part of Kallon’s training.  “The USA competitors are always well prepared and very competitive with a long list of medals at the International Competition.  Our Australian representatives come away from this competition learning new techniques for the skill of welding and knowing what they have to do to be competitive at the International Competition.”

While he didn’t medal, Kallon left Alabama with several new international friends and some great insight.  He learned a lot about his own limits during the competition, and he intends to use this new found knowledge to his advantage while he continues his training in the hope of being selected to become a Skillaroo and go on to compete at the WSC2015.

“I know my strengths and weaknesses a bit better now.  I took a lot of photos and I’m going to really study them.  The smallest issue with your welds will knock points off.  I have to read the marking scales and get to know them off the top of my head.”  He said that having the proper equipment is vital whilst training.  “You’ve got to have the machines!”

Kallon credits his employer, Mainteck for their ongoing support of his WorldSkills Australia journey and looks forward to bringing his knowledge and training back to work.  Paul stresses the importance of employer support when undertaking a WorldSkills Australia competition.  “Any employer that has a competitor participating in the preparation for a WorldSkills International Competition will be repayed over and over again.  The additional high level skills that a young person learns and retains is what I think is the most important part of the WorldSkills experience and something that they will keep throughout their careers.”