Hamilton's Damian Small, 18, has won the gold medal for web design at the intensive two-day WorldSkills New Zealand 2014 national competition held in Hamilton earlier this month.
And as a category winner, Damian is now in the running to represent New Zealand as part of the 'Tool Blacks' team at the biennial international WorldSkills Competition next year.
This year the national competition in Hamilton saw 90 regional competition finalists from across the country showcase their talent across 18 industry categories. Web design is a new category added to the competition this year.
Damian, who completed a diploma in web development and design at Vision College last month, heard about the competition through his course tutor and decided to "give it a go."
"I guess my tutor and other people in my course had always said I was good at what I do. I entered because I wanted to see if I really was as capable as they were saying."
For the web design category Damian completed four 3-hour projects across two days in exam conditions.
"The first was design. I had to plan and design the look and feel of a website for an Australian winery. The second was layout where I took a Photoshop design and created a website to match.
"The third and fourth projects were programming and interactivity. I had to build a fully working blog from scratch, then I had to take a supplied data file and make a web display version that makes that data look good," he said.
"Winning gold is awesome. It has really encouraged me and will hopefully influence my ability to get a job now that I have just completed my study," he said.
According to Damian, his passion for the web industry stems back to his intermediate years.
"In intermediate I was first interested in what you see on a webpage. Then, in high school I became more interested in the server side of things.
"I left high school in Year 13 because I wasn't going to achieve the required NCEA results. Mum told me about the diploma in web development and design at Vision College and it sounded really 'me'.
"I came into the course self-taught at a lot of things. But it definitely solidified my knowledge and exposed me to new things too. In just one year you learn how to design, build and implement complete websites from scratch."
Later in the year, WorldSkills selects a team from across industries to represent New Zealand in the New Zealand 'Tool Blacks' team at international competition next year.
" They choose the best candidates from across industry categories, so I'll have to wait and see," he said.