North Rothbury resident Matthew Brandt has secured a place on the Australian Skillaroos team after winning a gold medal at the Worldskills Australia 2018 national championships last week.
Mr Brandt, 21, is a TAFE NSW Glendale alumni who recently completed his apprenticeship and joined the team at Cessnock Smash Repairs two months ago.
He represented TAFE NSW in the autobody repair category at the Worldskills Australia competition, which was held at the International Convention Centre in Sydney from June 2 to 4.
Worldskills is Australia’s most prestigious skills and trade event, with more than 500 vocational students in 50 categories competing for a coveted gold medal and a spot on the Australian team (which will travel to Kazan, Russia for the international competition in August next year).
Mr Brandt earned his place at the national finals after impressing the judges at the Worldskills regional competition in 2017.
He won a bronze medal at the Australian championships in 2016, and went into this year’s nationals with his eyes on the prize.
He said he was “pretty stoked” to come home with the gold.
“I love a challenge and pushing myself in a competitive environment,” he said.
“My goal this year was to improve my speed and quality of my work and finishes from when I received a bronze medal at the WorldSkills Australia 2016 national competition and I did just that.
“My passion has always been cars from an early age and I’ve really benefited from my studies at TAFE NSW.
“It’s helped me improve my knowledge around all the new technology in cars and learn new welding techniques.”
Mr Brandt said the mentoring he has received from the staff at Cessnock Smash Repairs contributed to his win.
“I have learned heaps in the two months that I’ve been here,” he said.
“I took it straight into the competition and it paid off.”
He encouraged all TAFE students to take part in the Worldskills competition if they get the chance.
“It’s a good experience to have, even if you don’t win a medal,” he said.
Fourteen Hunter TAFE students brought home eight medals between them from the national competition.
TAFE NSW WorldSkills coordinator for the Hunter Region, Ian Vickery said it was a great result.
“Each and every student performed to an exceptional level and all placed in the top six in the county in their divisions,” Mr Vickery said.
“The Hunter provides quality training from both TAFE NSW and their employers and this result is a true example of this.”