From an interest to an award winning passion
At the start of his apprenticeship Blair Watters didn’t imagine that within a few years he’d be flying overseas to pit his trade skills against the best in the world. But that’s what happened to him in 2015, in the final year of his apprenticeship in Certificate III in Automotive Vehicle Painting with TAFE NSW.
Blair had always had an interest in automotive painting. “My mother had done it, so I guess that’s where the idea came from,” he says.
Blair started off painting his mates’ bikes then progressed to cars while doing VET in Schools. After Year 12 he found himself an apprenticeship.
Blair’s interest is now a full blown passion for car painting and restoration work. By the time he was in second year he was head painter for his employer, T&K Restorations, in Boolaroo near Newcastle. He now supervises two apprentices, which he enjoys.
“The key skill that is needed to be successful in the automotive refinishing trade is a keen eye for detail when painting vehicles, especially in the smash repair industry. After all, the refinisher’s job is to make the vehicle look as though it’s never been in an accident. For that you need passion.”
In the third year of his apprenticeship Blair’s teachers nominated him to compete in the 2013 WorldSkills Australia Regional Competition, and from there he won gold in the 2014 WorldSkills Australia National Competition in Perth, and ultimately a Medallion of Excellence in Brazil at the 43rd WorldSkills Competition, where he was placed eighth in the world. He’s now mentoring a TAFE apprentice for the next round of WorldSkills Australia competitions.
In 2015 Blair was also awarded the Future Leaders of the Industry award by the auto repair industry.
Blair started his apprenticeship as something to fall back on if he ever wanted to try something else, but now he’s committed to his industry, and perhaps to one day having his own business.
“The way an apprenticeship builds your trade skills is what makes it special.”