By Lauren Ferrone
Swan Reach carpenter, Ryan Grieger, is just your average young bloke, so you can imagine his surprise after receiving an award he didn’t even know existed – ‘Best Tradie in the Nation’.
The ‘Best in Nation’ award is given to the competitor who earned the most marks from among more than 500 competitors in all categories at the three-day competition.
“When they announced my name, they pronounced it wrong, so I sat there for a couple of minutes before I realised what was happening,” he laughs.
“It’s unreal. I’m over the moon… blown away – I wasn’t expecting this at all,” he says.
The 21-year-old carpenter also won gold in his carpentry category and is now eligible to compete in the next international WorldSkills Competition in Abu Dhabi next October.
But working with wood wasn’t something Ryan always wanted to pursue; becoming an electrician is what originally sparked his interest.
“I was told I’d get bored being an electrician,” he laughs. “So, I was dropped into carpentry and have loved it ever since.”
For Ryan, being able to “see the job being done” is important.
“A lot of trades, you don’t see anything, but with carpentry you get to build things and see what you’ve created,” he says.
Ryan was offered a carpentry apprenticeship while helping his now boss who was doing some renovations to his parents’ home a few years ago.
“I was there helping him because he is a friend of mum and dad’s and, from there, he offered me an apprenticeship,” he says.
Now a couple of months from completing a four-year carpentry apprenticeship, Ryan already has big plans to start his own business in the Riverland where he grew up.
“It’s where I call home. I definitely plan to stay in South Australia because I know there’s plenty of work for any trade here,” he says.
“I think growing up in a small town and going to a small school was a good thing, and people should know the opportunities aren’t limited there.
“A lot of ppl think you have to move to the city to see a future… I see no issue with going to a small country school; I think it’s an advantage.”
TAFE SA chief executive, Robin Murt, says lecturers, trainers and team leaders had worked closely with their students for several months to hone their skills and focus on problem-solving scenarios they would face during competition.
“TAFE SA is committed to hands-on learning and opening doors to career opportunities. The WorldSkills competition is an intense experience for these students, but it also gives them exposure to what their peers across the country are doing while building their confidence in their own skills,” Robin says.
Ryan is now eligible to compete in the international WorldSkills Competition in Abu Dhabi next year.
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