Fresh from the WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017 competition, 22-year-old Akeil Craig-Browne now has his sights set on improving the local automotive industry.
Craig-Browne, who won the top prize in the automotive technology category in the local WorldSkills contest last year, was one of four representatives from Barbados to compete at the international event in the United Arab Emirates capital city.
Barbados, the only Caribbean country to enter the 44th annual competition, held from October 15 to 18, did not place. However, Craig-Browne was received a Best of Nation award for amassing the most points for Barbados.
China captured the top spot with 109 points, followed by Korea with 88 points and Switzerland with 81 points.
The competition saw participation from 59 countries and regions in 51 areas of skill.
Barbados TODAY recently caught up with Craig-Browne on his arrival at the Grantley Adams International Airport.
Happy for the United Arab Emirates experience, the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic graduate said: “I am very proud of myself, and I am happy to bring back a medal for Barbados because [everyone] was wishing that we at least bring back something being that we were the only Caribbean country in the competition.”
“It was a first time for me competing internationally, so it was bit of a challenge. Nevertheless, I enjoyed myself and I gave of my best and it taught me a lot,” he said.
Craig-Browne said he was confident about the new skills he acquired from the competition and was eager to put them into practice and to share with others.
“I brought back information to prepare other individuals in my skills area for the next competition in 2019,” he said.
“I took away a few tips in how to better myself and what I should do after leaving the competition. I am actually looking to further my studies and get to know as much new technology as possible,” he added.
Craig-Browne, who operates his own business, Dynamics Auto Imports, said there was room for improvement in the local automotive industry particularly in training.
According to the mechanic, the international competition made him realise “Barbados had a lot more to learn in terms of the newer gadgets”.
“We definitely need to try to get to their level in training and technology. We had WorldSkills Barbados but WorldSkills International is a whole different level,” he said.
Recalling his experience in the international competition, Craig-Browne said it was a challenge as there were many tools he was not familiar with but had to learn on the spot.
The youngster, who recently missed out on a scholarship to study in Canada due to circumstances beyond his control, said given continuous advancements in technology, he would advise those operating in the field to constantly upgrade their skills.
“I would advise anyone to get as much training as possible in terms of the way technology is evolving every day. I would advise others to get familiar with newer technology and receive as much training as they could,” he urged.
Craig-Browne is not the only one feeling elated about his performance in Abu Dhabi. His father Nigel Browne told Barbados TODAY he was feeling very proud.
“Thanks to the [Technical and Vocational Education and Training] Council because they recognised him when they took him to do it. He always liked mechanics. We had only four Barbadians who made it to compete in this WorldSkills competition. It is like when you have the Olympics with every discipline of sports, WorldSkills is every discipline of skills. So it is fairly big,” said Browne.
The WorldSkills competition is an international vocational education and skills excellence event that challenges young to demonstrate technical abilities both individually and collectively, to execute specific tasks for which they study and/or perform in their workplace.
Other Barbadian competitors included Takiya Jordan, Roshida Griffith and Tinisha Hall, who represented Barbados in hairdressing, fashion technology and culinary arts.