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A TasTAFE-trained automotive refinishing apprentice has won an international colour-matching competition.

Jess Purton, who works at Finns Bodyworks in Launceston, won the 2018 PPG International Colour Matching Competition, held in Brisbane on October 12.

It is the fourth time since 2006 that a TasTAFE-trained apprentice has won this competition with all of the four winners doing their apprentice training with TasTAFE Autobody teachers Mark Campbell (pictured with Jess) and Colin Ogden.

The competition went from a national to international competition this year with competitors from New Zealand included for the first time.

Jess started her learning at TasTAFE five years ago when she enrolled in an automotive pre-vocational Certificate II program. She gained employment in Hobart as a vehicle refinisher before moving to Launceston and is now a third year automotive refinishing apprentice.

The competition involved matching two individual colours, a solid orange and a metallic maroon. Each colour had to be matched within a certain timeframe and competitors were judged on cleanliness, work health and safety, paint usage/wastage and best match on the face and flip view.

Jess said she was thrilled to win the competition.

“It was really amazing. It was the best feeling and the greatest achievement within the trade.”

She says her experiences in the workplace and at TasTAFE helped give her the edge in the competition.

“I think all of the different workshops that I’ve worked in where you’re using different paint systems have really helped me.

“I’ve developed an eye for colour and I’ve learnt to see how the colours work.

“Then when I’ve gone to TAFE we’ve done the colour-matching of the solids, metallics and pearls which also made things a bit easier for me. The teachers are really good.”

Finn’s Bodyworks owner Gene Finn said:

“I am very proud of Jess and what she has achieved in the competition. She has become a very respected member of our team and her attention to detail shows in the work she produces.”

As a female in the industry Jess is very much in the minority but says it no longer bothers her and she enjoys her work.

“Growing up I was a bit of a tomboy. I’ve always wanted to be out in the shed helping my father every second weekend.

“I have a strong passion for art and when I discovered that I could paint cars I knew instantly that that was what I wanted to be.”

In the long term Jess would love to go into custom painting – designing and spraying images on vehicles – or perhaps owning her own business, but for now she is focused on completing her apprenticeship and perfecting her skills in the smash repair industry.

Jess says that as a female in a traditionally male dominated trade she has had some challenges to overcome but he employer, Gene Finn, has been supportive.

“He’s definitely the best boss by far. It’s nice to have a boss that doesn’t treat you like you’re just another person/employee,” Jess said.


Automotive refinishing apprentice wins international competition