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It has been a hive of activity in the local Car Painting competition over the last six months. Competitors have been required to show their knowledge and skills as they vie for the privilege to represent South Africa in the Abu Dhabi WorldSkills competition. The first round was a general knowledge test, which covered safety, colour matching, and paint rectification methods in the painting process.

The first practical competition was hosted by Automotive Industry Development Centre (AIDC) in Rosslyn, Pretoria. Held over a four-day period, the tasks required the competitors to demonstrate their skills in using different application methods on a standard door, and intricate masking in reproducing a given design. Under the watchful eye of Wayne Brandon (BASF) and Christopher Lewis (SAA) and myself, the competitors worked on their projects. Then marks were awarded for finish, accuracy of masking, dimensions of the design and compliance to safety standards. Based on their scores, the top four competitors moved through to the next round.

BASF kindly offered to host the second round of the competition in their state-of-the-art Refinish Competency Centre in Gauteng. The four competitors were joined by a fifth competitor from the Western Cape, and the battle for the three top positions commenced. In addition to the masking and design aspects, the competitors were also tested on their ability to execute a spot repair within a defined area.

The top three competitors were awarded with medals at a glittering ceremony presided over by the Honourable Deputy Minister of the Department Education and Training, Mr M Manana, MP, and Deputy Director-General: Skills Development Mr Z Mvalo held at the International Convention Centre, Durban. The theme for the evening was: “It’s Cool To Be A 21st Century Artisan”.

Training for the top three competitors will continue in preparation for WorldSkills Abu Dhabi. In addition to skills already acquired, colour matching and repairs to plastic parts will be included. The final selection for the competitor to represent South Africa internationally will be made at the next competition. (No date confirmed, as yet.)

WorldSkills International provides a unique means of exchange and comparison of world-class competency standards in the industrial trades and service sectors of the global economy. The continued growth of WorldSkills International attests to the fact that traditional trade and craft skills along with the newer technology multi-skilled vocations make an essential contribution to the economic and social well-being of people everywhere.

As a free standing non-political organisation WorldSkills International provides a cost effective means for international government and industry cooperation in achieving higher standards and status for vocational education and training on a worldwide basis.