WorldSkills Australia is a national organisation that promotes the development of skills excellence in young people and showcases vocational education and training across the country and internationally.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the first WorldSkills International Competition held in Australia; with the International Youth Skill Olympics being launched in Australia in February 1988, Australia’s bicentennial year.

This anniversary is particularly meaningful to Dusseldorp Forum because WorldSkills Australia may never have got off the ground without the audacious vision of our Chairman, Tjerk Dusseldorp. Tjerk first saw the Youth Skill Olympics in 1981 in the US, when it operated under the banner of the International Vocational Training Organisation (IVTO) with 15 member countries, mostly from Europe. Upon returning to Sydney, Tjerk launched the WorldSkills Australia organisation, which prepared Australia’s first team for the Youth Skill Olympics in Austria in 1983.

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In 1988, Australia hosted the Youth Skill Olympics with 120,000 visitors coming through the first ever event held in Sydney’s Exhibition Centre at Darling Harbour. Australia was placed third overall with 12 medals.

In national training and education circles, the Youth Skill Olympics was seen as putting Australia on the map and “helped revolutionise Australian approaches to skills development from then on.”

Tjerk believes the success of WorldSkills Australia for over 30 years is due to the fact that it is a stakeholder organisation – “a real partnership between industry, TAFE, governments, trade unions, and communities with a clear compelling goal and a practical means of achieving it”.

Tjerk was elected president of WorldSkills International in 1999 and for 12 years led tremendous growth of WorldSkills to reach 53 member nations, including India, China and of course Australia.

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For more about WorldSkills Australia visit their website.