WorldSkills SA winners 2019

The 2019 national WorldSkills SA (WSSA) competition took place in Durban from 23 to 25 February, where among all the other skills, six refrigeration artisans battled it out for the opportunity to....

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WorldSkills SA winners crowned at national competition


By Ilana Koegelenberg

The 2019 national WorldSkills SA (WSSA) competition took place in Durban from 23 to 25 February, where among all the other skills, six refrigeration artisans battled it out for the opportunity to represent their country at the 2019 Kazan, Russia, international competition in August. 

The WSSA competition is about celebrating the talent of young artisans in the country and showcasing how key the artisanal sector is to the country’s economy. Approximately 120 participants from public technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges, private colleges, universities of technology, and industry competed in 21 skills areas. In addition, the competition will attract over 4 000 high school students from schools around the KwaZulu-Natal province for the National Artisan Career Festival, which co-located this event.

This was the third WSSA competition hosted by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), and the deputy minister Buti Manamela officially opened the event.


David La Grange of Airvent working on what would be crowned the winning project. Image credit: Coldfact


This year, the project was a novel innovation to produce potable water. The contestants in the refrigeration category had to assemble and commission a small water harvesting unit that extracts water vapour from ambient air. Designed by Kovco, the unit with a 7.33kWR rotary compressor, has a 24-hour output of approximately 100ℓ of water collected in a stainless-steel drip pan.

For compliance with food safety regulations, the direct expansion evaporator coil has copper fins while the condenser coil and preheat coil has aluminium fins, manufactured by Thermocoil.


Jorge Valente (runner-up) with his testo prize. Image credit: testo

Unlike the unit at the competition, the mass-produced unit has a filtration system and UV sterilisation to render the water fit for human consumption.

After piping up and connecting the electrics, the contestants had to charge the system with R407C.

The electric panel was preassembled by Kovco.

WSSA002Hennie Basson of Coldfact Projects (one of the judges) congratulating David La Grange (left) on his win. Image credit: Coldfact

And the winners are …

Congratulations to the winner in the refrigeration category: David La Grange, an apprentice at Airvent Airconditioning and Ventilation in Cape Town. Second place went to Jorge Valente of OTTC (Springs), with the bronze medal being awarded to the College of Cape Town’s Pieter Roets.

La Grange will receive further training before making his way to Kazan for the global WorldSkills competition taking pace from 22 to 27 August 2019. He is very excited about this opportunity, particularly for improving his skills, he says.

The top-three competitors received a testo 770-3 as a prize, which was presented to them by Torsten Harms of testo. This instrument is a true root-mean-squared (RMS) electrical clamp meter capable of measuring, among other things, inrush current, wattage, power factor, capacitance, and voltage.

Various other industry sponsors got together to ensure that the contestants had all the equipment and tools they needed to get the job done.


testo-sponsored prizes for the top three. From left: Jan Kriel (judge), Pieter Roets (third place), David La Grange (first place), and Hennie Basson (judge). Image credit: testo

About WorldSkills

In South Africa, the WorldSkills South Africa (WSSA) initiative is championed by the DHET. Even though South Africa has participated in World Skills International (WSI) events since 1990, WSSA was formally established in April 2013 by the deputy minister of the DHET.

Within the South African context, participation in the WorldSkills competition holds huge potential to influence the development and employability of the South African youth. In addition to this, it acts as an effective vehicle to increasing awareness of apprenticeships and artisanal skills, raising the standard of vocational education and training and artisanal skills. This initiative also supports the DHET’s ‘Decade of the Artisan’.

WSSA008click hereOne of the drawings the contestants were given to work of. Image credit: Thermocold

The WorldSkills South Africa project and the Decade of the Artisan campaign, both championed by the DHET, targets the continuous expansion of the TVET colleges sector, particularly artisanal skills. One of the National Development Plan’s (NDP) goals is for the country to produce 30 000 artisans per year by 2030. It is through the success of these projects that a difference can be made in South Africa.


The six refrigeration contestants in red with Palesa Rakometsi (DHET deputy director career management) at the back and Trueman Myeza (WSSA technical expert for the refrigeration category), kneeling. Image credit: OTTC

World Skills International was established in 1950 as a non-profit organisation, with the mission to promote and facilitate, through cooperation and worldwide awareness, the essential contribution that skills and competitive standards make to the achievement of economic success.

Every two years, tens of thousands of skilled young people from around the world, accompanied by their teachers, coaches, and mentors, gather in a selected city to compete before the public in the skills of their various trades and to test themselves against demanding international standards.


Jorge Valente of OTTC (silver medal winner) working on his water harvester project. Image credit: OTTC

This year, it’s time to compete in Kazan, Russia! This 45th WorldSkills competition will bring together more than 1 300 young professionals (under the age of 22) representing more than 70 countries, who will compete in over 50 skills. The event will be held at the Kazan Expo International Exhibition Centre, where more than 1 000 experts will evaluate the competitors’ work.

Watch this space! 

source: WorldSkills SA winners crowned at national competition (

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WorldSkills SA winners 2019

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