MTA Institute apprentice takes gold at WorldSkills competition

Aaryn McKeegan, a fourth-year automotive spray-painting apprentice training with the MTA Institute, has taken out the top spot at the WorldSkills Gold Coast region competition for automotive refinishing.

The competition was held at the Axalta Training Centre in November, and Aaryn, who works at ASR Smash Repairs in Cairns, lined up against a group of other talented apprentices for the chance to take gold and a spot in the WorldSkills Australia National Championships event to be held in Perth in 2020.

WorldSkills is an international movement that aims to promote and showcase the benefits of vocational education and training and does so internationally via competitions across 75 countries in more than 50 trades and skills. In Australia, more than 500 competitions are held in 34 regions across the country every two years with thousands of apprentices and students taking part.

To put it mildly, it’s a big deal, and winning the regional comp was, said Aaryn, a proud moment.

“I really didn’t expect it,” he said. “I was confident in what I had done, but I was very surprised.”

What each of the automotive refinishing apprentices were expected to do in the competition was apply a fairly complicated design to a car door.

“We had to put one colour down on the door, fineline out the design, put the second colour on and then clear over the top,” said Aaryn. “The design had measurements but included a big ‘W’ that had to be done freehand. It’s not something I’d do in the workshop normally – it was more custom – and it was pretty complicated.”

As for the judging of the work, in a trade that demands perfection the judges were on the lookout for that too.

“They marked you on how much your paint bled through the fineline, how sharp your lines were, how neat everything was, the angles, how exact your measurements were, and the finishes. It was tough, but I went into it as I would any other day at work, so I didn’t stress out too much.”

Keeping calm and being confident clearly paid off – Aaryn scored 92 out of a possible 100 points.

And he had a right to feel confident. As well as being trained by MTA Institute, Aaryn works at ASR Collision Specialist, a multi-award winning business that took out the MTA Queensland Innovation Award in 2016 for its investment in its workshop, staff and streamlining of workflow systems, and this year won the Cairns Business Excellence Award in the Customer Service Excellence category. Working in that environment is definitely a benefit for anyone learning the trade.

It was the ability Aaryn has shown working at ASR and throughout his training with MTA Institute that convinced his trainer, Shane Palmer, to nominate him for the WorldSkills event.

“This was the first year that I decided to nominate an apprentice in this competition,” said Shane. “And I did so because of Aaryn’s tremendous enthusiasm, great attitude and his overall attention to detail to present his finished product up to industry standards and to the original equipment manufacturer specifications. I had no doubt he was capable of winning this competition.”

As for the national WorldSkills competition that Aaryn will contest in 2020, Shane is confident about that too.

“l think Aaryn has a good chance of winning the national competition. No doubt,” he said. “And hopefully more apprentices from the North Queensland region can achieve the same outcome in the future.”

For Aaryn himself, the WorldSkills National Championship will be a new and exciting challenge – something to look forward to and from which to learn.

“I didn’t go into this competition to win it, I did it for the experience,” he said. “And I’ll treat the national competition the same way. But it would look good on my resume!”

WorldSkills holds competitions across a range of automotive categories including auto electrical, autobody repair, automotive mechanics, heavy vehicle mechanics, motorcycle mechanics and vehicle painting. To find out more, visit

Source: Motor Trader E-Magazine (Dec 2019/Jan 2020)

18 Dec 2019