A Tauranga engineering apprentice has his sights set on competing in Russia after winning a national industry skills title.
Matt Nielsen recently took out the gold medal in the welding section of the WorldSkills New Zealand competition, held in Hamilton.
"I'm absolutely stoked with the win and very proud of myself for the big achievement," he said.
If the 20-year-old is successful in a series of pre-competition requirements, he will head overseas for two weeks to compete in the WorldSkills grand final held in Kazan, Russia in August 2019.
Nielsen has almost completed his three-year Apprentice Training New Zealand engineering apprenticeship at Page Macrae Engineering in Mount Maunganui, where he is one of 24 apprentices studying and working at the engineering firm.
He has never been to Russia before and is looking forward to it.
"I'd take some time to travel and make the most of it," he said.
Nielsen ended up competing in WorldSkills after his boss was notified of the competition.
He entered and won the regional competition before making it into the national round.
Five regional finalists competed in the national WorldSkills event, showcasing their skills in nine categories including construction, manufacturing, engineering and creative arts.
The welding series required contestants to work with mild steel, aluminium and stainless steel to create a variety of structures.
"It's not flat out but there's definitely a couple of nerves," Nielsen said.
After the trip, he will head home to continue working at Page Macrae Engineering, returning with some solid experience under his belt.
"I have this great opportunity in front of me. Once I've finished my apprenticeship, my options are open to be able to work anywhere I want to, in New Zealand and the world."
He reckons any youngsters interested in the WorldSkills competition should give it a try.
"Everything's worth a shot … practice makes perfect. You can't practice enough."
WorldSkills New Zealand is a not-for-profit charitable trust that works closely with industry training organisations, polytechnics and private companies.
The organisation aims to foster trade and work skills, especially in school leavers, by encouraging participation by young people aged 21 and under at regional, national and international competitions.