When Jack Westcott began his apprenticeship at Air New Zealand four years ago, he never dreamed it would one day take him all the way to Russia. The aircraft engineer, along with a team of other young workers, will represent New Zealand this month at the WorldSkills International Competition in Kazan. In total, about 1600 competitors from 60 member countries will vie for the top spots across more than 50 skill categories.
Intimidating? Absolutely, but Westcott has already proved he has what it takes. He earned his spot on the international team by winning gold at the WorldSkills New Zealand National Competition in Aircraft Maintenance last year. There, he impressed judges by showing off the skills he uses every day as part of Air New Zealand’s Auckland-based maintenance team. He helps service, inspect and repair the airline’s jet fleet, from Airbus A320s to Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
In Kazan – a 1000-year-old city in the west of Russia – Westcott will get to meet other young people with skills such as plumbing, floristry, electronics, hairdressing and more. Most are 22 or younger; aircraft maintenance is one of the few categories that allows competitors up to the age of 25.
From August 22 to 27, he will compete in a series of challenges assessed by engineering experts. It will be tough, but he doesn’t have to look very far for inspiration – at the last WorldSkills International Competition, in 2017, fellow Air New Zealand ex-apprentice Jarrod Wood took out the top prize in aircraft maintenance.
“Jarrod’s win at Abu Dhabi was exhilarating and powerful,” says Ash Siddiqui, General Manager of WorldSkills New Zealand. “It inspired, and continues to inspire, hundreds of young Kiwis, and showcases the value WorldSkills pathways provide to our youth in New Zealand.”
WorldSkills is a not-for-profit organisation that fosters vocational education and training through competitions, both here and overseas.
“There’s no other youth movement quite like it,” Siddiqui says. “It brings passion, energy and absolutely phenomenal change to young people, and it has a significant ripple effect on their peers and professions. WorldSkills changes lives.”
This article was published in the July issue of Kia Ora Magazine. To find out more about worldskills, visit worldskills.org.nz