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Building a career . . . Firman Joinery apprentice Mathew McLellan will represent New Zealand at two international trade competitions this year. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

Apprentice joiner Mathew McLellan’s chosen career is taking him places.

Mr McLellan, based at Firman Joinery at the North Oamaru Business Park, will travel to two international competitions this year to test his skills against the best from around the world.

He heads to Sydney next month for the WorldSkills Global Skills Challenge, where he will compete in the joinery category, before jetting to Abu Dhabi in October for the WorldSkills International Competition.

He is part of a 14-strong New Zealand team, affectionately known as the Tool Blacks, and won his selection after he won a gold medal in the joinery category of last year’s national competition.

As well as joinery, the competition features automotive refinishing, welding, autobody repair, electrical installation, plumbing and heating, aircraft maintenance, restaurant service, automotive technology, industrial control, cooking, floristry, graphic design and carpentry.

Mr McLellan will be expected to complete a project from a plan, show he knows how to use the different tools needed to cut and assemble projects, cut with care and precision, and be as accurate as possible.

The overall appearance of the finished project is also judged.

Mr McLellan said he was thrilled to be selected to represent his country and looked forward to mixing with others from around the world.

“It will be good to compete against people who’ve done the same thing around the world. I’d like to see the progress I’ve made from when I was even at the national competition to where I am now and how I’ve improved as a joiner.”

He said his selection had given him more confidence in his abilities and reassurance that joinery was the career path he wanted to follow.

“I love coming to work – just the variation and the challenges. I’ve actually got to think about things and you’re not doing the same thing every day.”

Mr McLellan said he was doing everything he could to impress at the competitions, particularly in Abu Dhabi.

“There’s a thing called the medallion of excellence. If you get over so many points, you get one of them. That’s something I’m looking towards, obviously, but getting a medal would be a lot better.”

WorldSkills New Zealand is an independent, non-profit charitable trust founded in 1986, dedicated to encouraging young people to excel in vocational skills, achieved through exposure to competitions at regional, national and international levels.

Through competitions, the organisation gives young professionals on a vocational career path the self-confidence and experiences they need to reach their full potential.