A Trip To Rio de Janiero

From August 6-19 Suraya is travelling to Brazil, with her husband Bruce, to the world competition for Trades Apprentices (Worldskills NZ). Bruce Howat is the CEO and Suraya Dewing is reposnible for press coverage of the event.

Competiors have to be no older than twenty three years old when they enter.

Each day, as part of this trip Suraya is posting daily reports for Worldskills New Zealand which they are distributing through their media and social media networks. These will also be posted on The Story Mint's social media and website.

Worldskills New Zealand

Worldskills New Zealand (WSNZ) team have 15 competitors in that number of trade categories. In all, 74 countries are competing in 49 different skills from floristry, hairdressing through to engineering and carpentry.

Stop over in Rio De Janeiro

Giving the team time to acclimatise.

After almost 19 hours in the air, in transit and in transport to their hotel 15 competitors for the Worldskills international competitions discovered that not only had they crossed borders, crossed oceans they had also entered a new language zone.

Until it actually happens, most travellers expect to be able to communicate with people in some way even if it is at a simple level. Buying dinner, bottles of water, and other every day activity became a mission.

But, not for Stacy, who was down at the markets on the beach bartering with vendors. “Nah,” he said, “Five dollars,” to a ten-dollar souvenir and he started walking away.

“Okay, okay,” the vendor said, “Five dollars, this once.”

Later, when a parent tried to do the same thing, the vendor stood firm….ten dollars or no sale.

This young welder is trading like a master.

It’s no wonder he is a star among trades people, and highly respected by his fellow senior engineers at RCR Energy, Dannevirke.

Competitors have to be under 23 years so Stacy is less than 23. Everyone who knows him believes he is an engineer to watch. Before leaving for Rio he sanded the floors of the house he recently bought, did an extra 400 hours training in order to prepare for the stiff competition he will meet at Sao Paulo and continued performing at an extremely high level in his job.

One of Stacy’s major sponsors, BOC Gases put out a Facebook posting on him and got over 37,000 likes for the post.


Auckland representation in the team

I am personally embarrassed that there is so little representation from Auckland in the team going to Sao Paulo. There is one competitor from MIT (Manukau Institute of Technology), who is competing in Cheffing. SIT (Southern Institute of Technology) provided three.

I have no personal agenda in wanting an Aucklander there, except that it seems crazy that New Zealand’s largest city has shown so little interest in supporting these young people. Without doubt, they will go on to become top trades people, perhaps owning their own business and training others, in the trades they represent. Because I noticed this absence, I asked what the selection process was for choosing the team.

I found out that polytechnics and ITOs recommend competitors for the Regional competitions and the winners from those go on to compete in National competitions. From there, the winners go on to compete in the Oceania competitions. Earlier this year, seven countries from Asia, India, and Australasia competed at Wintec Polytechnic, the current hosts of the World Skills NZ competitions. MIT supported Jacklin Pillay by sending her to the Wintec competitions in order to get her into the process.

After the Oceania competitions Worldskills NZ team Leaders, Technical Delegates, the CEO and Operations Manager select the final team.

So it is no mean achievement to be chosen to represent NZ at the biennial international World Skills competitions.

So why no Auckland competitor?

I am told the reason is that no polytechnic in Auckland has volunteered to host or organise regional competitions.

The one redeeming feature of this very sad picture is that we have three MIT representatives with us who are observers, with a view to hosting regional competitions next year.


Stop Over in Rio de Janeiro

The logistics of getting over 50 people to Sao Paulo is a massive undertaking. That number includes competitors, technical delegates and supporters and involves many volunteer hours as well as the concentrated effort of one full time CEO and .8 (both paid)  by other staff. The fact that everything is going so smoothly is testament to people’s dedication and willingness to contribute over and above what anyone has a right to expect.

Organisers decided to include a stopover in Rio de Janeiro as a way to prepare the team for the change in climate and highly charged environment at Sao Paulo.

We had a wonderful time, being tourists, visiting the statue of Christ the Redeemer, which overlooks the city and is incredible. No image does it justice. It overlooks the city from its vantage point on Mount Corcovado. We took the tram up there. The steep climb meant we had a panoramic view of the city of  seven million people when we go to the top. The journey up went through lush forest (replanted after the coffee growers used all the land and the water). We then then joined the crowds of tourists taking photos of themselves in the pose of the statue. Black birds flew all about the statue and provided a marked contrast to the white sandstone coating the steel and concrete mould. It stands an incredible 30 metres high on a two metre base. The statue was first envisioned in 1560 and finally realised 1925.

We then toured around the famous beaches including Ipanema and Cococabana.

Although this is winter, tanned scantily clad people packed the beaches. Needless to say, this was a popular sightseeing spot with the competitors.



In the past, competitors have had to fund raise the cost of going to competitions. This usually averages out at over $30,000 per skill category. That is many sausage sizzles.

This year government has supported the competitions in two ways: putting some money towards the competitor’s costs and publicly supporting them through messages on social media and the Beehive website. Worldskills NZ (WSNZ) says they could not have produced a team so well prepared if they had not had this level of support.

The other thing that Bruce Howat, CEO, determined when he took over the position, was that the competitors would not have to fundraise at all. As far as he was concerned, their job was to focus on extra training and preparation, including a programme on mental toughness, which he introduced.

In recent months he went out to industry and ITOs to get funding support for the team. Both groups have responded positively. As a result, competitors were able to concentrate on training to be the best they could without having to raise their airfares, accommodation, registration, cost of shipping tools to the venue, and living costs.

 “This is how it should be,” he says.

WSNZ has also set up a public donations page on their website, which has raised money for UK, Australia and NZ.


































Rio de Janeiro