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NMIT students win WorldSkills Gold

25 May 2010

Students from the Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (NMIT) have excelled in their chosen fields at this year's national WorldSkills competition, Australia's premier showcase of youth skill and trade excellence.

NMIT Jewellery graduate Halina Kaufman, from Burnie, Tasmania and Joinery student Lukas Page, from Whittlesea, Victoria both won gold medals at the national championships in Brisbane earlier this month.

Halina, who completed the NMIT Certificate III in Jewellery Manufacture in 2008, now works as a goldsmith in her home town of Burnie. She puts her success at this year's competition down to the comprehensive training prior to the event. “I put as much effort in as I could. Anything I could practice before I went I did it.” Halina's winning project in the jewellery category was an 18 carat gold diamond shaped pendant, which took her 20 hours to make. She says NMIT jewellery teacher Stephen Keogh encouraged her to take part again after she failed to place in the 2008 competition. “He inspired me to do the whole thing and helped me organise it.”

At 25, Halina is too old to compete in London for the international titles but she will be awarded a bursary to study and work overseas. Her work as a goldsmith involves everything from design concept to creation, and Halina says she still draws on the skills she was taught at NMIT. “The course is very practical and the teachers are very good. I'm making a couple of things now using the skills that I was taught as a second and third year apprentice.”

Faculty of Engineering Associate Director Bruce Burns says WorldSkills is the Olympics for Australian apprentices. “These students are up against elite competitors from around Australia. To win is an incredible achievement.”

NMIT provided competing students with financial assistance to attend the competition and extra training outside course hours. “It takes extraordinary commitment to win at a national level because of the amount of training involved,” says Mr Burns. “The teachers at NMIT support these students every step of the way.”

Another gold medal winner, Lukas Page, is in the third year of his apprenticeship and completing the Certificate III in Offsite Construction at NMIT and works at a fencing and veranda company in Brunswick. Lukas, whose winning project was a librarian staircase which he completed over a two day period, says he enjoyed competing at such a high level despite the pressures involved. “It felt great to be a part of it and having the audience come up and watch what you were doing.”

The 25-year-old fell behind on the first day but managed to recover and take out first place in the Detailed Joinery and Shopfitting category on day two. “It was pretty stressful. I just focussed and worked really hard the second day.” While Lukas' success at WorldSkills means he could get a job anywhere he wants, his dream is to start his own furniture making business. “It felt pretty good to be called the best joiner under 25 in Australia,” he says.

Three other NMIT students were also recognised for their work at WorldSkills. Nathan Cameron from Swan Hill and Celeste Thompson from Thomastown won fifth and sixth places respectively in the jewellery category, while Stephen Knapman from Bendigo was placed fifth in the construction category.

WorldSkills Australia is a national not-for-profit organisation that provides young Australians the opportunity to gain new skills, compete against their peers in their chosen field, and fast track their skills and career development. The competition was held over a three day period from 7-9 May in Brisbane.

Interview / Photo Opportunity

Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener, on (03) 92691579, 0413 483 182 or jamesgardener@nmit.vic.edu.au

NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) - Situated on seven campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne's north, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce. NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.