Akeil to put skills to test in Abu Dhabi
AT THE TENDER AGE of seven, when little boys usually play with toy cars, Akeil Craig-browne was sharpening his mechanical skills on the real ones.
Little did he know that he was destined to use his abilities to represent Barbados in the Automotive Technology Competition at Worldskills –a global “skills Olympics”, taking place in Abu Dhabi this October.
The 22-year-old recalls watching his grandfathers fix vehicles; seeing his father race at rallies and being around his dad’s buy-and-sell car lot.
“I was always in the car field; when I was small we had a Nissan Sunny, so whenever I saw it jacked up I would run outside to assist. Around age seven, I started changing tyres, checking oils and changing fluids.
“By 14, I started working with my grandfather. After secondary school, I decided to do the programme at the Polytechnic,” the past student of The Alleyne School and Combermere said.
Akeil first heard about Worldskills Barbados, the local leg of the global competition, while at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic (SJPP). Instructors there encouraged interested students to enter the contest, which was open to persons aged 16 to 21, who were enrolled in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions.
“I decided to give it a try; what was the worst that could happen? So, I gave it my best, and made it through the preliminaries and the finals,” he said.
It paid off. Akeil won gold and earned the highest overall score in all categories of the competition becoming the first male to achieve this. He automatically qualified to represent Barbados at Worldskills Abu Dhabi.
“It is my best accomplishment to date,” Akeil said.
Equally as proud is his instructor and skills expert, Wayne Maycock.
“It was very impressive to see Akeil’s skills, time management and critical thinking improve tremendously. . . . Worldskills has shown me that when students are taking part in a competition, they are willing to go above and beyond.
“For instance, Akeil asked the other instructor, Mr Haynes, to help him get his mechanical side up to standard for Worldskills Barbados, because Akeil is stronger electronically.”
As Maycock and Akeil prepare for Worldskills Abu Dhabi, the training has intensified. They admit that they were nervous but assured Barbadians that Akeil was working very hard to compete against the best youth auto-technicians in the world.
“Abu Dhabi is more challenging because I know all the areas in which we are lacking at the institution (SJPP) and we are depending on the
garages like Simpson Motors, Mcenearney Quality Inc. (MQI) and smaller garages to help us prepare. Unfortunately, we cannot find all the equipment and skill sets in one garage in Barbados, so we have to spread the training around to make sure he is as prepared as possible,” the skills expert explained.
But there is a need for more training. Maycock explained he had reached out to local garages to assist Akeil with specialised areas such as practise on hybrid vehicles.
“Whoever we asked have not said no; they are willing to help. Some would like to have him full time. Some of them want him to come on evenings after work so they could carry him through the skillsets and equipment,” he outlined.
Akeil, who is also a trainee vehicle inspector with the Transport Board, is sharpening his skills through on-the-job experience. His employers have lauded his work and the Worldskills programme.
“He recently joined us and the skills he gained through SJPP and the Worldskills programme are an asset to our quality assurance department. We have put him to work in our most critical shift, our night shift, to make sure the buses are available for the next morning,” marketing and communications manager of the Transport Board, Lynda Holder said.
Akeil is grateful to the garage owners who afforded him the additional training. “The guys that I have been introduced to are pretty good and they have a lot of faith in me. I am going to Worldskills Abu Dhabi to do my best to make Barbados, my family, friends, instructors and the TVET Council proud,” he confidently said.
Approximately 1 300 participants from 77 countries are expected to compete in 51 skill areas at Worldskills Abu Dhabi. Barbados will compete in automotive technology, culinary arts, garment making and hairdressing.
Given the magnitude of talent, skill and expertise that Akeil Craig-browne will face at this ‘skills Olympics’, Barbadians are being encouraged to show their support by following his journey to Worldskills Abu Dhabi on the Worldskillsbarbados Facebook and Instagram pages.
(PR/TVET Council Barbados)