The IMI Skills Competitions aim to identify the most talented young apprentices working in the automotive sector. Last November the finalists came together to find out who would take home gold.

In the Automotive Refinishing category Oisin McKerr from Southern Regional College and Porters Bodyshop took home gold. A fabulous moment for someone who’s always loved the industry and the cars in it.

McKerr’s route into the automotive sector was probably decided even before he started thinking about work and careers. But what direction in the industry – which offers so many different opportunities – wasn’t predefined.

“My whole life has been devoted to cars, I’ve always had a love for cars especially the Japanese domestic market, and with this came a lot of interest in how things work, and I settled for the shiny part of it all,” he says.

McKerr studied at Southern Regional College and works at Porters Bodyshop in Northern Ireland has worked hard to reach a level where he’s ready to compete against the best in the country, embracing everything that’s been thrown at him.

“I have loved every part of my training as it has pushed me out of my comfort zone and it’s been a really great experience with Southern regional collage. The most challenging part of it all was honestly down to the confidence which was easy to overcome with the help of my tutor David Fairley,” says McKerr.

His growing confidence helped him compete at the Skills Competitions finals.

“It was definitely nerve wracking at first, having to fly over and be in a completely new area, but once everything settled and I got to know all the judges and competitors I was a lot more comfortable with it and was able to just have fun,” he says.

“Taking home the gold was extremely rewarding, it really showcased that the hard work had paid off. [I found] out back home while I was in the cinema (LOL), and was over the moon.”

McKerr is determined to embrace everything the sector has to offer and is already thinking about where he’d like his career to take him.

“I want [automotive] to take me as far as it can, I want to start my own custom bodyshop where I can make other people’s visions for their car come to life,” he says.

As for the advice he’d give to others thinking about automotive as a possible career options, well that’s simple: “It’s definitely a brilliant opportunity to learn things not a lot of people know, especially if you a car enthusiast like me,” he says.

Time to find out more about the IMI Skills Competitions? See how you could be part of the search for the top talent in the sector

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