Clunes bricklayer Paul Coon takes home medal

WINNER: Paul Coon, 20, of Clunes, was awarded the bronze medal in bricklaying at the 2018 Worldskills championships in Sydney last week. He hopes to be chosen to represent Australia in Russia next year. Photo: Dylan Burns
WINNER: Paul Coon, 20, of Clunes, was awarded the bronze medal in bricklaying at the 2018 Worldskills championships in Sydney last week. He hopes to be chosen to represent Australia in Russia next year. Photo: Dylan Burns

Clunes’ Paul Coon has taken home a bronze medal for bricklaying from the Worldskills Championships in Sydney last week. 

The 20-year-old competed over three days among more than 400 other young apprentices and trainees from across Australia.

In his category, bricklaying, he was one of 12 competitors who travelled to Sydney from all over Australia as well as one competitor from Russia.

The bricklayers were asked to build three walls for the competition including one for a speed test.

The speed test involved laying as many bricks as possible to build a wall during a set period of time.

Mr Coon came equal place in the speed test with the Russian competitor. 

“I was pretty happy with that,” he said.

On how he feels about winning bronze, Mr Coon said it hadn’t hit him yet. 

“We competed for a total of 18 hours so it was really tiring. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. I’m just too buggered.”

Mr Coon has been a bricklayer for five years, since he started a school-based program in 2013 while he was in year 10.

During this time he would work two days each week and spend the other three days at school. 

“It was a good transition as opposed to going from school straight into full-time work. I liked it,” he said.

Mr Coon is now fully qualified and works in areas like Daylesford, Maryborough and Ballarat. He mostly builds houses. 

He said he enjoys bricklaying as it is one of the few trades which still uses traditional techniques.

“Bricklaying stood out to me because it is still old school, without technology and is still done by hand, unlike a lot of other trades with swisho tools.”

“It’s pretty hands on, which I like. I could never sit still at school,” he said.

Chief Executive Officer of WorldSkills Australia, Brett Judd, said the WordSkills Championships were part of Skills Show Australia 2018, Australia’s biggest event focused exclusively on vocational education. 

“The Skills Show attracted over 1000 competitors and competition officials along with tens of thousands of local, interstate and international visitors, including a delegation from Russia.,” he said. 

“It created life-changing opportunities for the competitors and was a celebration of the strengths of Australia’s vocational training system.”

Some medalists, like Mr Coon, are waiting for the news on whether or not they have been chosen to join the WorldSkills Australia’s Skills Squad, which will represent Australia at the WorldSkills international competition in Kazan, Russia next year.

The squad will be announced in August.