At just 18 years of age Chris Williamson is someone whose star is definitely on the rise. Judged the best in his trade at the 2016 WorldSkills National Competition and now with his own freelance graphic design business, Chris’ pathway to success began with his decision to leave school early and begin an apprenticeship.
“Maybe doing an apprenticeship was written in my stars—I was never someone who was destined for university,” said Chris. “My family backed my decision to do a trade completely. They said it was definitely the best way to go and they were right. You get on-the-job experience while working alongside some great mentors, and you’re getting paid while working towards your qualifications. It’s so enjoyable—there’s no down side to it.”
Chris credits much of his success to his ‘absolutely incredible teachers’ at North Metropolitan TAFE in Perth. “I wouldn’t have been able to compete at WorldSkills without the fantastic support I got from my teachers. They have taught me everything. They put some great opportunities in my way and when the Head Lecturer suggested I have a crack at WorldSkills I knew better than to second guess him—and given that the outcome for me was a Gold Medal it’s just as well I didn’t!”
One of the great career benefits of the competition is that it allowed Chris to prove himself on a national stage in front of potential employers, resulting in a number of job opportunities and interest from various sources that he can tap into. This will be especially important as he undertakes further training in his quest to represent Australia at the WorldSkills international competition in Abu Dhabi in October 2017. “WorldSkills is renowned for pushing the best of the best to their limits. It will be beyond intense, but I’m determined to give it a red hot go,” said Chris.
Chris is also looking forward to giving his all to his role as an Australian Apprenticeships Ambassador. “It’s so great to be part of a program which helps to promote apprenticeships and counter some of the negative messaging that suggests apprenticeships are a second choice pathway to university,” said Chris. “Unless you want to do medicine or something similar, I think apprenticeships are a better choice. So my message to everyone is to give an apprenticeship a go. There’s no reason not to. If there’s something that sparks your interest, just chase it. If it doesn’t work out you’ve got all the time in the world to find your personal passion.”
For his part, Chris feels very fortunate to have found his own personal passion. “Since beginning a trade I have been taken to places I never thought imaginable,” said Chris. “Now I just want to enjoy the ride while working with lots of big companies, and perhaps travelling to further my studies in Europe and the United States. My only plan for the future is to have fun with life and see where it takes me.”