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Apprentice paints a bright future with TAFE NSW 

TAFE NSW Wollongbar

Apprentice paints a bright future with TAFE NSW 

One TAFE NSW Wollongbar student is set to compete to represent Australia in the nation’s largest vocational skills competition in August.

Dylan Cleaver is competing in the automotive refinishing skills area, and he’s among eight students from TAFE NSW Wollongbar, Kingscliff and Casio campuses who will compete in the WorldSkills Australia 2023 National Championships from 17 August.

WorldSkills hosts regional, national, and international competitions which celebrate excellence and showcase vocational educational and training. Winners from the National Championships are in the running to be selected for the Australian Skillaroos team to compete against more than 75 countries. The international championships have run every two years since 1950. 

More than 500 vocational students will compete in Melbourne over three days with their eye on the gold medal and a chance to represent Australia on the world stage in France next year.

As part of the competition, Dylan, 23, will be tested on his skills and knowledge of the vehicle refinishing industry, demonstrating panel preparation, priming and sanding, layout and design measurements, colour matching, buffing, and decal application.

The Grafton apprentice said he was proud to be representing his region on the National WorldSkills stage.

“It’s a great achievement just to get to the nationals and to know I’ll be representing the Northern Rivers against the best young painters in Australia,” he said.

“Our industry is always changing, there’s always something new to learn. TAFE NSW has helped me keep up with all the advancements in the industry that I’m not necessarily seeing every day at work.

TAFE NSW Teacher Autobody Refinishing, Evan Coleman, said Dylan was well placed going into the National Championships. 

“At TAFE NSW, we are focused on getting students industry-ready, and they start their practical training in real-world, hands-on settings early in the course. Building these skills early builds confident and competent auto refinishing workers who can hit the ground running in a workplace,” he said.

In the lead-up to the competition, Dylan said he feels quietly confident after months of mentorship by TAFE NSW teachers and WorldSkills mentor, Evan. 

“Evan and all my TAFE NSW teachers are really switched on painters with great knowledge of painting, systems and product. They’ve been so supportive, and they genuinely want to see you succeed. I feel like I’ve got a good chance if I stick to my game and let my creativity come through, especially with airbrushing,” Dylan said. 

TAFE NSW Executive Director Education and Skills North, Jason Darney, said “our incredibly talented Hunter region students have earned the right to compete to represent Australia after upstaging some of the best local talent at the regional WorldSkills competitions, held in 2022.”

“The TAFE NSW finalists are representing some of the most in-demand industries from painting to plumbing, and everything in between. I'm proud to say Northern NSW is home to these industries' future leaders.

“The ultimate goal for Dylan is to earn a place on the Skillaroos team and represent Australia at the WorldSkills Competition in France next year.

“WorldSkills competitions provide TAFE NSW learners with amazing, and potentially life-changing learning opportunities in an exciting, interactive, and engaging environment. 

“Participants learn important life-long skills that will not only help them succeed individually but will help deliver a highly skilled workforce,” Mr Darney said.

The WorldSkills Australia 2023 National Championships will be held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre from 17 to 19 August. 

Media contact: Emily Graham, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist,, 02 7921 3756.