Competitor's dealing with stress

World Skills New Zealand

Competitor wisdom

The opening ceremony was an ordeal for a number of the competitors. They had a long day with a start at 5.30am, the school visit, and preparation for the opening ceremony, which meant a late night.

I do not want to give the wrong impression, because from an observers’ point of view, the opening was fabulous. However, the logistics of getting people to and from the venue were cumbersome, adding at least two hours to people’s days. This was also the case for the competitors who were conscious of that competition began the next day. However, our floristry competitor put things into perspective when she said, “So here we are, doing this thing that is so amazing and we’re complaining about being in line and having to wait.”

When I hear comments like this, I realise that these competitors are wise beyond their years.

The winner’s attitude

Chris Robertson from aircraft maintenance exemplifies the winner’s attitude by pushing through situations that could potentially overwhelm others. Despite being tired because of the long day after the opening, he concentrated on making the day a success. According to his skill manager, Mike Neus, he had a brilliant day.

The competitors have to complete two tasks each day and he and Mike have somehow arranged for the order of the tasks to grow in complexity.

Today he worked on a helicopter and had a set number of faults to find in a helicopter and then to fix them. I could see him concentrating on getting himself focused. This was a very serious business and its seriousness showed in his body language.

However, Chris was also battling another issue, of which no one was aware. He had a lump appear on the side of his face and a headache. Once they knew about it, organisers called the medics. Several theories as to what it might be exist. Everyone hopes it is a passing thing.

Despite all this, he worked on. Afterwards, he said he did not think he found all the faults set by the competition but continued looking and listing faults until his time was up. The judges may be surprised to find new defects that they did not know about! According to his skill manager, he did very well so it seems he overcame the initial setback. Evidence the mental toughness programme works.

The relationship between competitor and skill manager is critical.

Many employers give competitors time off work to train. The Air Force gave Chris a month to prepare and this time off is now proving its worth.

Employers who support their staff members in this way are not only investing in the individual but also contributing to New Zealand’s economic future. These competitors will contribute to NZ Inc. all their lives not only as tradespeople but also as trainers and business leaders.


Hairdressing apprentice, Nadine Gratton is part of a new form of competition making her a trailblazer. Unlike previous competitors, she is working with a mannequin that moves instead of being static. This means she can follow the whole process of styling someone’s hair from washing it to cutting and shaping it. This year judges are marking a competitor for the way he or she interacts with the customer as well as how the final style looks.

For example, the way she tilts the mannequin’s hair into the basin for washing gains marks.

Some of the hairstyles at the end are works of art. The styles from yesterday were on display and one that really caught my eye was a series of plaits across the top of the head and coloured streaks beautifully interwoven.

Today Nadine was styling the front of the mannequin’s hair in sweeping waves and bringing it to a comb-like peak at the back. Although it is not a style, I would request it was ultra-modern. I could see many young people being very proud of the final style, which would set them apart from their friends.

I was interested to learn that the competitors work on real hair so combined with the moving mannequins they are operating in very realistic situations.












A winners attitude