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Medal Your Potential

When I was sixteen years old and finishing my compulsory basic education, I wanted  to learn a skilled trade. Apart from being sick of having my head in  books, I wanted to start my own business and the only way I was going to do that was take up an apprenticeship and start learning.

Anyway, when I told my teacher I was going to learn a skilled trade he was furious  and took me to see the school principal.  You see I was top of the class, and they were worried I’d set a bad example for the rest.  The principal laid down a heavy line about how I was “ruining my future” and that I’d be stuck in some dead end job with dirty hands for the rest of my life.

Then things took an unexpected turn.  I started my apprenticeship and when I was only two years in, my teacher (I went to a polytech one day a week), told me about a skill competition coming up in about six months time.  It was called WorldSkills and he said if I won it, I’d be going onto the WorldSkills National Finals with a chance to represent my country and skill at the international level.

It was hard to take in at first, but I checked on the web and found out all about this amazing competition and so I started training with the aim of making it into the Nationals.

The training must have paid off because I actually won! First competition and I won!

Then began the most intense learning experience of his life, supported by my teacher who had been a judge overseas.  He encouraged me all the way, and I was lucky to also have a supportive employer who let me take some time off work to practice intensely for the Nationals.

Again, much to my surprise, I won the Nationals too! Because of my performance I was selected to become a member of our national team to go overseas to the WorldSkills Competition, my life changed big time. I’d already put a deposit down on my first home, and my motivation to win overseas was simply to speed up the process of finishing my apprenticeship and becoming independent.

Standing on the podium to receive a medal as being among the best in my skill was a once in a lifetime experience I’ll never forget. The scores were so close, I very nearly lost it!

When I returned home, some of the local publicity had reached my friends who were still at university.  They were pretty excited for me, and one told me she wished she had learned a skilled trade. I told her it was not too late and that she should follow her heart.

That’s my story. What’s yours?

4 Comments to “Medal Your Potential”

Jack Dusseldorp 18 October 2010 at 8:40 pm #

If you don’t have time to write your story, just put your Steve on

John Shiel 19 October 2010 at 1:22 am #

When I was 16, my dad suggested he could get me an apprenticeship with his mate as a car painter. I thought that was fantastic, my own money, no more school and my independence, and of course my own car. Little did I know that it was the start of a wonderful new learning and life changing experience.
After completing my trade I worked in industry for 6 years before becoming a vocational training teacher. I loved my days working and teaching apprentices and hopefully passing on my knowledge.
It was during that time I discovered WorldSkills ‘that definitely changed my life’. With now over 20 years of being involved as a workshop supervisor, judge, expert and Technical Delegate for my country it is still changing my life.
Now I am 50 and will take on the responsibility of being the next WorldSkills Vice President for Technical Affairs, what an honour!
Skills can take you anywhere you want to go!

Jack Dusseldorp 19 October 2010 at 4:53 am #

What you didn’t share is the fact that due to health reasons you had to give up car painting and reinvented yourself as an IT specialist.

You are one special Steve!

Jack Dusseldorp 21 October 2010 at 9:24 am #

And what about Steph? How did she medal her potential?