Four Swinburne students and alumni in landscaping and visual merchandising will head to Perth this year to battle it out in Australia’s largest skills excellence competition, the WorldSkills National Championships.
The students qualified for the prestigious event in 2019 through strong performances in the Victorian regional competitions. They will finally get their chance to show off their skills on a national stage in August after the postponement of the competition last year due to COVID-19.
Diploma of Visual Merchandising graduates Natalie Korovalis and Jessie Thompson will join landscaping students Lachlan Schack and Riley Tubbs representing Victoria and Swinburne.
Swinburne Visual Merchandising trainer Belinda Smith has been mentoring both Korovalis and Thompson since they completed their diplomas in 2019, creating an ongoing training plan, working through key areas and meeting regularly with the students online to keep them engaged and motivated.
‘With the competition being postponed during the height of lockdown in Melbourne last year, both students showed great determination and initiative to keep building their skills and knowledge to be ready for the competition,’ she says.
‘We are now focused on being competition-ready, settling those nerves to perform at our best and ensuring we have a great time while doing so.’
Taking the next step
Since completing their diplomas, the students are now working in the industry for major brands Country Road and The Cotton On Group. Korovalis is undertaking further studies with a Bachelor of Design, specialising in branded environments.
In addition to this industry experience and further study, both students can take confidence in previous strong results, including second place at the National Championships in 2018.
“It was attending and judging the visual merchandising competition [in 2018] that ignited my passion for WorldSkills. The excitement and level of skill shown by the competitors across all industries was an amazing experience to be a part of,” says Smith.
“For the students and I, this is all additional, but we love what we do, and we are very excited to be able to represent the visual merchandising industry and compete in this great event.”
Diploma of Visual Merchandising graduates Natalie Korovalis and Jessie Thompson competing at the regional Victorian WorldSkills Championship
Taking on the best in Australia
The WorldSkills National Championships in Perth will bring together hundreds of students from around the country to compete across more than 50 different skills, showcasing what they’ve learned across training, apprenticeships and industry experience.
More than 100,000 people have competed at WorldSkills events since 1981, with an Australian representative team known as the Skillaroos selected every second year to compete at the international competition.
Swinburne students will compete over three days in Perth. Working in pairs, Schack and Tubbs will use skills in paving, water features, planting and turf installation to create an outdoor landscape, while Korovalis and Thompson will create a visual display that is creative, eye catching and responds to a client brief.
Landscape Construction coordinator Rob Cannon said both Schack and Tubbs have demonstrated passion, commitment and enthusiasm that will not only serve them well in the competition, but in their careers.
“Both students have displayed excellent leadership qualities and have received strong feedback from their employers, teachers and peers. I have no doubt that the maturity and motivation they have both shown will ensure they have bright futures in their chosen trade,” says Cannon.