Queenslander Todd Richards Wins National WorldSkills Title for Bricklaying

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todd-richards-gold-qldA North Queenslander who usually works with blocks rather than pressed clay bricks ‘showed the southerners how it’s done’ when he won the bricklaying category of Australia’s leading Apprenticeships Award Competition, WorldSkills, in late August.  Todd Richards, who had finished his apprenticeship training and works for Col Sommerfeld, competed against 12 other regional winners from around the country at what is the major, biannual national event showcasing up and coming apprenticeship talent and craftspeople in the making.

The competition was actually quite a tight finish with the Silver Medallist, young Alan Ramsden, just turning 18 years, from Perth and the Bronze winner Matthew Barratt, 22 years, from Hobart both close behind Todd.  Just two points out of 100 separated Todd from Alan and one point from Alan to Matthew.  All 13 apprentices worked to the highest standard ever seen in the competition and amazingly all demonstrated a different style and approach to constructing the projects assigned for the competition.  This alone made it a really interesting spectator event.

Todd was encouraged to enter Regional WorldSkills by both his employer Col Sommerfeld and his trainer at Central North Queensland TAFE, Peter Carr.  Both separately told him he’d have a good chance of doing well so he was inspired to give it a go.

Peter Carr claims Todd’s work is “near perfect” craftsmanship and describes him as a calm but confident individual – winning qualities indeed!

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“Although he’d never laid pressed clay bricks before, having 95% of his work experience with laying block, Todd was able to translate the same skills used and the desire to win into this form of bricklaying”, said Peter. He also recalls that while he felt Todd wasn’t the fastest competitor he’d ever seen, his attention to detail and his organised planning would see him through and give him a chance to win.  And that he did!  Peter believes Todd is a true example of the saying that “It is easier to teach skill than it is to teach the desire for quality”.

With the financial support and organisational assistance of ABBTF’s Qld Manager Tony Bishop, Peter is now promoting WorldSkills regional competitions with his students.  After seeing Todd’s experience and involvement Peter is keen to see more North Queensland students give the competition a solid try and perhaps follow in Todd’s footsteps to the national stage.

Todd speaks very highly of his employer Col Sommerfeld as someone who has been and still is a big influence on his work quality.  Col has his own business and is a highly respected employer who has had several apprentices in the past.  Todd was at the upper age limit for competing in the Australian WorldSkills championship, having finished his apprenticeship, and won’t unfortunately be eligible for the International WorldSkills due to his age.  It’s hoped that the Silver Medallist, Alan Ramsden will be able to represent Australia in Germany next year.

In June’s Become a Bricklayer blogs we reported the NQ Supa Trowel competition for the title of Aussie Best Bricklayer which, if it’s on again next year and Todd takes part, you can be sure there’ll be some money on his team to win.  Register here if you’re not already receiving Aussie Bricklayer.