Queanbeyan will have its very own international representative at the Worldskills competition in October, set to be held in the United Arab Emirates.
Landscaper Alex Halls, 22, will team up with Canberra resident Dougall King, 21, to represent Australia at the competition in Abu Dhabi.
Worldskills is an international organisation that hosts a tournament every two years. Skilled tradespeople under 23 compete for their countries in a variety of categories. This year’s competition is expected to have over 3000 entrants.
Mr Halls and Mr King, who work with landscaping companies in Canberra, were paired up after the regional tournament in August 2015 where Mr Halls placed first with Mr King runner-up.
Since then the two men have consistently trained to earn their selection for Team Australia at the world event, including more recently incorporating a strict diet and exercise regime.
“We’re really throwing ourselves into this,” Mr Halls said.
“We aren’t going to waste this opportunity.”
After joining his brother-in-law for some work experience between years 11 and 12, Mr Halls knew that landscaping was his calling. He then left school to begin an apprenticeship and furthered his studies at CIT.
Entering the Worldskills competition was not something Mr Halls or Mr King ever anticipated, but after some encouragement from CIT staff and performing so well they knew it was a path worth following.
Between now and jetting off to the Middle East in October, the men will train hard for the competition.
The tournament will see them produce a seven-by-seven metre garden that may include decking, water features, brickwork, paths and more. Competitors will have 22 hours over four days to complete the task.
They hope to prepare for any situation because, unlike at previous events, they won’t receive their plans until the day before competition.
Their commitment to training is for one reason, according to Mr Halls.
“Australia has never brought home a gold in landscaping, we hope to be the first,” he said.
“I never thought I’d represent the country in anything, and here I am.”
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,”
It’s an opportunity that Mr Halls hopes to one day help others achieve, to share his passion with the next generation as his mentors have with he and Mr King.
“My long term goal is to perfect my skills further and become the best landscaper I can be,” Mr Halls said.
“I want to start my own business and train up my own apprentices and hopefully send them on the same journey that I went on.”