Teen apprentice fitter wins way into WorldSkills comp

AN APPRENTICE fitter and turner from Lismore has out-classed every fully qualified competitor in his field to earn a trip to compete against the world's best engineers in Brazil.

Kelvin Marquand will set off for Sao Paulo next year to lead an Australian team of engineers at the 2015 WorldSkills international competition.

The 18-year-old grew up in Lismore and is a second-year apprentice in Ballarat, Victoria.

Kelvin Marquand
Kelvin Marquand

He was the only non-qualified contestant at the Australian WorldSkills championships and received a score of 97.5 - five points higher than his closest competitor.

"For the final project, we had to machine pre-cut steel back to size, drill and fit it together to make a working steam turbine that ran off compressed air," Mr Marquand said.

"The turbine blade had to be made by hand with files and a hacksaw."

Mr Marquand entered the trade after doing work experience in Year 10.

He was offered an apprenticeship and "was always interested in hands-on work, even as a kid".

He has been overseas once, to France, but has never been offered an all-expenses trip to represent his country.

The WorldSkills competition brings together the most highly skilled tradespeople to compete for their countries.

All of Australia's champions, from 26 fields, will undergo intensive training over the next six months to ensure their spot on the national team.

"These talented young Australians, together with selected industry experts, represent the high level of skills and skills training in this country and WorldSkills Australia looks forward to the support of all Australians as we aim to return Australia to a top ten ranking at the international level," WorldSkills Australia chief executive Mark Callaghan said.