24 October 2018


Over 500 competitors in 60 different trades and industries recently competed in the 2018 WorldSkills Australia national finals, all striving for gold, silver or bronze medal. 


WorldSkills Australia is an organisation which aims to promote, and inspire a skills culture, showcasing through competition the skill excellence of young Australians in vocational education and training. 

 The three-day national competition was held from 2–4 June at the International Convention Centre in Darling Harbour, Sydney.

 VACC apprentice Matthew De Groot was there competing against 13 of his industry peers from across Australia in the skill category of Automobile Technology during the grueling five-hour day competition.

 

A third-year apprentice motor mechanic, De Groot was eligible to compete in the national finals by winning the silver medal in the regional finals late last year.

 

Currently working at Brighton BMW in Brighton, the 22-year-old De Groot told Australian Automotive that he prepared as best as he could in the lead up to the national finals.

“I felt I studied and prepared for the challenges that I would be facing. I spent time with Ron Locandro the senior educator at Chisholm Institute and he mentored and helped me with hands-on tasks that I haven’t yet done in the workshop,” said De Groot.

“On the first day of the competition and on the first task that we had to do, I felt very nervous. I realised how hard this competition would be. Once I got through the first task I was a lot calmer, as I knew what was expected of me.”

 

Under the watchful eyes of up to ten judges, De Groot and fellow competitors were tested on identical vehicles and components with identical fault conditions, diagnosing, measuring or repairing in rigid timeframes. Tasks included:

Dismantling a Toyota four- cylinder twin cam engine, carrying out correct and precise measurements on cylinder bore ovality, piston ring end gap, piston- to- cylinder bore clearance and valve clearances.

Drawing comprehensive electrical wiring diagrams for a horn and fuel pump circuit that showed fuses, relays and switches.

Removal of a left-hand front suspension strut on a Ford Focus, using a spring compressor to fully dismantle and explain serviceability of all the components, then correctly reassemble the strut.

Dismantling a BA Falcon brake master cylinder to inspect return springs, piston assemblies and cylinder bore for pitting. Identifying that the seal had been reversed on the primary piston during this task was an example of the diagnostic tasks with which competitors were confronted.  

VACC Apprenticeship Field Manager, Steve Tye Din said, “Matthew has an incredible desire to learn the trade and strives to do the best he can. He has the talent for the trade and is a great team worker and doesn’t complain about any tasks given to him at work or the amount of overtime he has to perform.

Competing at WorldSkills has helped him immensely in his trade development and will give him the impetus to do even better. He is a cheerful young man and is going to have a successful career in the automotive industry.”

 

Just missing out on scoring enough points to win a medal at the national finals, De Groot looks at the competition as an awesome opportunity for any young aspirant to display their skills and knowledge that they have in a particular trade.

“I feel I learnt so much across the three days,” says De Groot. “The competition pushes you out of your comfort zone and teaches you to adapt to any situation quickly. Best of all, you get to meet and compete with your peer group from all over Australia, some from dealerships and some from small workshops. No matter how much you already know about your trade, you will always come out of a WorldSkills competition knowing more than when you went in.”  

Selected medal winners from the national finals competition will get the opportunity to compete in the international WorldSkills competition in Kazan, Russia in August 2019.