Two TAFE NSW Ultimo apprentices are preparing for the WorldSkills Australia 2023 National Championships in August. Robert Polito and Nickolas Abela were selected to compete after performing a series of tasks to the highest quality industry standard at the Sydney regional competition held last year.
Polito, who is studying a Certificate III in Automotive Body Repair Technology while working as an apprentice panel beater at Hornsby BMW, said he is honoured to compete at the national competition.
“I want to be a panel beater for the long run, and I’d love to get into restoration and work on old cars. For now, I’m just trying to learn as much as I can of the trade at work and at TAFE NSW so that I know how to do as much as possible in future,” said the 23-year-old.
Abela said being selected for the national competition was as much a shock as it is affirmation that he’s pursuing the right career. The 19-year-old works as an apprentice spray painter at Penrith’s The Smash Repair Centre while completing a Certificate III in Automotive Refinishing Technology at TAFE NSW.
“Everyone I was up against in the regional competition was older than me, like in their 20s and 30s, so I was shocked when I won,” he said.
“The hardest part about spray painting is definitely colour matching, but at TAFE NSW we have a similar set-up to at my work, so I get to practice and learn how to use the equipment before I do it on the job.”
TAFE NSW students develop their sanding and preparation skills using the latest technology, including the campus’ new state-of-the-art R&I Zambesi air prep bays.
William Rafferty, TAFE NSW spray painting teacher, said the investment ensures the highest level of health and safety for students while giving them access to the latest technology.
“Although some panel shops operate with prep bays, less than 10 per cent of workshops in Australia are equipped with prep bays that meet the specifications and features of this unique bay. The facilities clean up to 6,000 litres of air per minute, ensuring the safest and cleanest possible working environment for students preparing vehicles and individual panels,” said Rafferty.
“Students in our Automotive Refinishing Technology and Automotive Body Repair Technology courses do a whole unit on safe working practices, and these facilities are helping to set them up for success in the industry.”
The WorldSkills Australia 2023 National Championships will be held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre from 17 to 19 August.