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19 May 2008

Sparks are flying in Sweden for Nigel

By Mikaeli Costello

NJ_0.jpg Sweden and the United Kingdom might both form part of the European Community, but for 2003 WorldSkills Champion, Nigel Dunlop, life in Oskarshamn, nestled in Sweden's south, is a world apart from his hometown in Northern Ireland. For starters, he no longer jumps in his car and listens to the radio as he travels to work, instead he mounts his bicycle and pedals 10 minutes in near-freezing temperatures to begin his day as an Electrician at DynaMate.

DynaMate, owned by Swedish commercial truck and bus company, Scania, specialises in production and facilities maintenance for industrial customers in Sweden and is Oskarshamn's largest employer - boasting more than 2000 employees. It has a further two plants in the middle and northern parts of Sweden.

Nigel, a Mechatronics Champion, has a strong background in both electrical and mechanical engineering and has spent the last few years building on his engineering skills. Part of his compulsion to take part in the WorldSkills Champions Exchange program was to expand on his electrical skills, a challenge he's so committed to he's even been working overtime to learn as much as he possibly can during his six-month placement.

‘As I'm becoming more familiar with my new workplace, I'm wanting to learn more about the electrical aspects of skill and really take advantage of the opportunities at DynaMate. I've been going in on Saturdays to help out a colleague, so I can watch, learn from and assist him as much as possible.'

During the past few months Nigel has been making the most of opportunities to integrate with locals in the small Swedish town. He's joined the company gym, started playing badminton and found himself a big fan of ice hockey, attending all of his local team's ‘home' games.

And like any foreigner living in a new country, Nigel too has encountered his share of challenges.

‘I started a language course in December to help me with my Swedish, and as most of the machines technical descriptions are in Swedish, it's taken some time to get my head around things. It's certainly a challenge, but all my co- workers speak very good English and are always on-hand to help out when I need it.'

And so, what's in store for Nigel at the end of his 6 month placement?

‘Knowing what a great opportunity I've been given here in Sweden, and now that I've taken the first step in my global career, I can't see myself returning back to Northern Ireland any time soon. I'm talking with DynaMate about extending my contract, perhaps working in another of their plants... or I might even try another country. Anything's possible at this stage.'

For more information please about the WorldSkills Champions Exchange program, contact the WorldSkills Champions Exchange Coordinator: