The people behind the Skills Show…Jed Sparks

How long have you been involved with WorldSkills Australia?

I have been involved with WorldSkills since my national competition in 2014, where I won a gold medal, and have since judged both regional and national competitions in the Construction Steelwork and Engineering Team Challenge categories.

Do you have a background in trades of skills?

My trade qualification is a boilermaker, however I’ve also attained a number of pressure welding qualifications while working on various oil & gas projects across Australia.

Where are you currently working ?

For the last two years I’ve been running my own company ‘Sparks Industries Australia Pty Ltd’, which is a small custom fabrication company specialising in Vehicle Accessories including Custom Ute Trays, Canopys, Bullbars fabricated from Steel, Aluminium and Stainless Steel with a heavy focus on aesthetically functional design. I also design and manufacture automated machinery for a number of customers to help make their business’ run more efficiently.

What inspired you to volunteer with WorldSkills Australia?

After competing in a Worldskills Australia national competition I have seen first-hand how great the opportunities Worldskills can provide are. And now I feel that it’s my turn to give back and support the Worldskills Australia movement. I also enjoy seeing the talent on show across the wide variety of trades that Worldskills encompasses.

When you tell others you are going to volunteer at a trades & skills event, what do they say or ask?

A lot of people I speak to have never really heard about Worldskills and I find that to be a real shame. I usually try to promote the Worldskills movement as the great opportunity giver that it is, as well as explain the incredibly broad spectrum of trades that the competition covers.

What might someone be surprised to know about you?

I can ride a unicycle!

What do you think will change about WorldSkills Australia over the next five years?

I would like to see Worldskills become a household word across the country and gain the recognition it deserves through continual growth and to encourage apprentices and tradesmen to take pride in their craft and skill.

As a volunteer, what sorts of trends do you see happening in the skills & trades area in Australia?

I can see a movement toward promoting trades as an equal career path to a tertiary education (University). In my area of the trades, (Engineering/Manufacturing) I think that a trade should be the first step in one’s career before moving up to engineering/designing then management roles as I’m a firm believer that ‘the only job you start at the top is digging a hole’ and this approach creates better engineers, designers and leaders.

What do you do when you aren’t working or volunteering?

I enjoy sports target shooting and spending time with family and friends.