Forget the Rio Olympics. Three ACG Yoobee students are setting their sights on world domination in Abu Dhabi next year.

Digital Media Advanced students Sarah Browning, Mitch Batie and Marcus Seumanu have won the top three spots in the WorldSkills Graphic Design Nationals. Now they’ll embark on months of intense training before finding out which one of them will represent New Zealand at WorldSkills Oceania next year. Nail that event and they could be on their way to the ultimate world championships, WorldSkills International 2017 in Abu Dhabi!

“To be picked for Oceania would mean that I am one step closer to achieving my goal of being able to represent my country - and being picked to represent New Zealand in Abu Dhabi would be just unbelievable,” says gold medal winner Sarah. “I would be so proud, and I would love the opportunity to prove to myself and the rest of the world that I am capable of competing at that level. It would be great to experience another culture and make international connections as well.”

The WorldSkills New Zealand Nationals kicked off on September 29. Held at Wintec in Hamilton the event drew 67 finalists from around the country competing in 14 different skills-based events. For silver medallist and graphic design whiz Mitch Batie it was a great chance to showcase his design skills in a pressure-cooker environment.

“I don’t get stressed easily and went into both the Regionals and the Nationals feeling relatively calm,” he says. “The Nationals were certainly harder though and as the time limit drew closer I became more and more stressed about finishing and wondering if I had everything correct. I was pretty happy when I placed second!”

WorldSkills is the largest skills-based competition on the planet, and its world champs draw competitors from more than 70 different countries competing in a diverse range of skills-based events, from web design, to brick laying, to floristry.

According to ACG Yoobee tutor/WorldSkills GD Skill Manager Sherein Abdel-Al the competitions are a brilliant way for talented young people to hone their craft.

“WorldSkills is about striving for excellence and gives competitors a unique opportunity to accelerate their training and skills in their field,” says Sherein.

“What students learn from doing WorldSkills can fast-track their careers by years – winners of the international competitions often get snapped up by overseas companies with great career opportunities.”

On top of regular classroom studies and internships, WorldSkills competitors undertake an additional 600 hours training, minimum. It’s a big commitment and a lot of work but according to Mitch it is well worth the effort.

“The training I’m about to embark on is around 10-15 hours of design tasks and study a week, on top of my other responsibilities. This will only increase as Oceania draws closer and will probably take over my life if I am chosen for Internationals! But I feel like I have the skills to succeed and can only imagine all the different opportunities it could bring me.”