December 23, 2022

Local apprentices crowned among WA’s best

Alcoa apprentice supervisor Craig Watts (right) congratulates Jasper Bennett-Jenkins and Shayla Katona who took out silver and gold respectively at the recent 2022 WorldSkills championships.

Mandurah local Shayla Katona has been crowned one of Western Australia’s best fabrication apprentices winning a gold medal at the 2022 WorldSkills regional competition.

The 21-year-old, who is in the third year of a fabrication apprenticeship at our Wagerup Alumina Refinery, was presented with the gold medal for the Perth South Regional Division.

Waroona local Jasper Bennett-Jenkins, who is based at Huntly Bauxite Mine and also in the third year of a fabrication apprenticeship, received a silver medal in the same division.

Shayla said she was ecstatic to be named the winner as was her team who helped train her.

“In the lead up to the competition I had high hopes of winning because I hold myself to pretty high standards,” she said. “But because I didn’t finish one of my welds, I knew that would make it hard to get first place.”

“When I was named as the gold medal winner, I was ecstatic as were my work mates who had put a lot of time and effort into training me,” she said.

As part of the competition, the fabrication apprentices are required to complete six different welds over six hours with judges awarding points to the participants against a range of criteria.

Alcoa apprentice supervisor Craig Watts said the company was proud of Shayla’s achievement.

“Winning the WorldSkills regional competition is testament to Shayla’s approach to her apprenticeship – she is diligent and thorough and has shown an appetite to learn and develop her skillset as a boilermaker,” Craig said.

Shayla gravitated towards fabrication during high school when she saw a friend welding and gave it a go.

“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do once I finished high school and I had a couple of friends who were into welding, so I gave it a go and really liked it,” she said. “I love my apprenticeship. It’s definitely challenging but you get to be creative and it’s very rewarding when you see the end result of something you’ve made.”

The success follows another Alcoa apprentice – Megan Hazelden, of Pinjarra – being judged the WA Apprentice of the Year in September.

We currently employ 107 apprentices across two bauxite mines and three alumina refineries in the Kwinana, Peel and Upper South areas of Western Australia with another 36 set to start in January 2023.

Since commencing operations in Western Australia in 1963, we have trained and developed over 2,550 apprentices, trainees and graduates.

Shayla will compete at the WorldSkills Australian National Championships in Victoria in August 2023.