Northlink students bring home the gold

Hilary van Rooyen

Northlink College fêted five of its students at its Panorama campus last week for winning gold and silver medals at the national WorldSkills Competition held in Durban in January.

Northlink College chairwoman Alana James praised the students’ efforts. She said the college was “future proofing” its students to “filter them into the job market”.

The WorldSkills Competition is held every two years and is the biggest vocational education and skills excellence event in the world.

Northlink College is the largest Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College in the province with seven campuses spread across the northern suburbs.

Gold medal winner Cee-Jay Lakey, 22, of Ysterplaat, who studied IT network systems administration, said he had faced stiff competition in Durban, and time management and patience had been key.

“Our task was to set-up a small IT network similar to that of one used in a home. The competition ran over three days and it was quite stressful.”

Another gold medal winner, Renier Wepener, 22, of Paarl, who studied computer and numerical control turning, advised pupils completing their matric to follow their passion.

“My father always told me that if you do what you love; you will never have to work a day in your life,” he said.

GoldmedallistSiyabonga Makhathini, who studied plumbing and heating, said he had always wanted to work in the construction industry.

“It’s important that pupils are focused. The reason I was able to study is because I was awarded a bursary. I want to tell the youth living in poor areas that anything is possible because there are so many opportunities out there. I also want to tell them to work hard at school,” he said.

Mihle Mvelakabu, who won a gold medal, said he had studied bricklaying because it was his passion.

“When I was younger, I used to draw houses and design things. I am grateful to God for giving me this opportunity. It’s very important for the youth to trust and believe in themselves,” he said.

Silver medal winner in computer and numerical control turning, Shane Appolis, of Colorado Park in Mitchell’s Plain, said many young people in his neighbourhood were involved in drugs and gangsterism.

“I want to tell the youth that there is a greater future out there for them. There is no need for them to be standing on the street corners. The possibilities are endless,” he said.

He is set to study mechanical engineering at the University of Beijing, in China.

His mother, Yolanda Appolis, attributed her son’s success to being “raised in the church.”

“My children have always been very homely and they went everywhere with us. They were never interested in partying and drinking.

“They love cars and would often visit Killarney racetrack on a Saturday. I want to encourage parents to bring their children up in the ways of the Lord.”

The students will be honing their skills before they compete in the International WorldSkills competition in Abu Dhabi in October this year; where they will compete against 75 countries in 50 different skills areas.