Following weeks of tough competition, Royce Richards from Rainbow Print in Christchurch won double gold for the printing industry at the WorldSkills national competition in WellingtonThe 19-year-old Royce Richards shone amidst a field of seven highly-skilled regional finalists, edging ahead of silver medallist Gavin Kale of Kale Print, Tauranga and bronze medallist, Danielle Van Houtte of the New Zealand Printing Company in Hamilton.
WorldSkills New Zealand National Skill Expert for Print Grant Letfus says while the standard of competition was extremely high, Royce's attention to detail set him apart from his peers. “Royce was very competent and that showed throughout,” he says. “It was an extremely close competition, with less than a mark between the top two. It was Royce's print quality that put him in gold position in the end.”
Royce received a second boost on Sunday, with his selection as the Best of Region for Canterbury. He says, “It's an awesome accolade to have on my CV and having the uniform and medal to keep is a bonus. It definitely shows how much I've learned about the industry.”
WorldSkills New Zealand is a biennial competition that measures excellence in trades-based skills. It tests on-the-job knowledge, with competitors tasked with making a specific object from a blueprint or following a set of with routine tasks that are frequently used in the workplace.
This year, apprentices from 18 trades, including printing, bricklaying, cookery, carpentry and welding competed to find the country's highest skilled trainees at WelTec in Wellington from September 18-21.
Labour Minister Trevor Mallard and PrintNZ Training General Manager Ashley Chisholm awarded Royce, Gavin and Danielle their medals at an awards ceremony at the Beehive on Sunday, September 21, attended by WelTec and WorldSkills International officials.
Over the competition, the three printing finalists underwent a series of tests, including ink mixing, densitometer work with dot gain and density and a 90-minute theory exam on the printing industry. The competitors also visited an ink manufacturer and completed several tests off-site.
These tasks followed a regional competition in which the three medallists competed against four other regional finalists for the right to compete in Wellington.
The seven spent the final week of August reproducing a five-colour graphic of Hot Rod cars in test-like conditions in their workplaces. A WorldSkills judge monitored the competitors and assessed each apprentice to a strict set of conditions including quality, timeframe and wastage. Each print run was also scaled, depending on what technology was used to complete the test.
Grant says the seven competitors showed strong quality in their final pieces and only a few points separated the eventual finalists. “The effort made by all the competitors was extremely pleasing,” he says. “This year they had a better understanding of what was required in the competition. All the competitors showed the positive attitudes that we like to see in our young people. I believe the people who enter WorldSkills are the cream of our industry and will always do well.”
The seven regional finalists were: Christopher Britten from Westprint in Auckland, Danielle Van Houtte from New Zealand Printing Company in Hamilton, Gavin Kale from Kale Print in Tauranga, Jury Kake from Lithoprint in Wellington, Miles Goodlet from Thames Publications in Wellington, Royce Richards from Rainbow Print in Christchurch and Daniel Turner from McDowall Print in Invercargill.
The winner of the printing category of the national competition, after meeting certain criteria, claims the right to represent New Zealand as part of the Tool Blacks at the next WorldSkills International competition, in Calgary, Canada in 2009.
It's a prestigious honour, as WorldSkills International bronze medallist print apprentice, Kieran Dale, well knows. Kieran placed third in the printing section of the 2007 competition in Tokyo, Japan and returned to the competition this year in the role of judge.
“WorldSkills has opened the door to so many great opportunities and I honestly do not think I would be where I am today if it wasn't for the competition,” he says. “I am really excited and humbled to have been chosen to help with the judging and I have found it really satisfying to know that I am giving something back to the industry after everything it has given me over the past couple of years.”
Kieran is currently working as a Senior Printer at Logick Print and Graphics in Auckland, where he has taken on supervisory roles and responsibilities. He is keen to continue his involvement with WorldSkills.
“The competition for me is kind of like a bug - first I was competing and now I am judging. It is something that I think I will continue to be involved in and interested in for a long time.”
The WorldSkills New Zealand printing category was officially sponsored by BJ Ball Papers, Trust 4 Skills and PrintNZ Training. Special thanks are due to Hostmann Steinberg (Nova Ink) for the ink and equipment supplied for the ink mixing segment of the competition and AM International who supplied the Ideal Guillotine for the guillotining segment. Thanks also to judges Bunny Nicholson, Shane Kinniburgh, Warren Johnson and Kieran Dale.