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A Dunedin apprentice joiner will travel to Germany to represent New Zealand at an international trade skills competition.

Leith Joinery apprentice James Buchanan (21) won a national joinery championship, held recently in Christchurch.

On July 2, he will be competing against 23 of the world's best apprentice joiners at the World Skills International in Leipzig.

A Mosgiel local, Mr Buchanan decided he wanted to become a joiner during woodwork class in his final years of school.

He studied at the Southern Institute of Technology before returning to Dunedin to begin his apprenticeship. He has been at Leith Joinery since the beginning of last year.

Mr Buchanan believed he had the skills necessary to give the competition ''a really good go.''

When the contest starts, Mr Buchanan will have 22 hours to complete three joinery designs.

His work will be judged on gap size, which needs to be within 0.5mm of the original designs.

Mr Buchanan has been putting in the hard yards to prepare. Recently, every Friday has been dedicated to practising the designs he will be making in the competition. He trains about 16 hours per week. In total, he has put in about 450 hours' training.

Mr Buchanan has also worked hard to meet the financial cost of attending the contest. Sending himself, his tools, and his boss, Peter Leith, who will be a judge, to Germany will cost more than $24,000.

Mr Buchanan and his family raised about $9500 towards the trip, while Leith Joinery will contribute the rest.

Leith Joinery has invested $9000 in Mr Buchanan's tools and preparation for the contest.

Mr Leith said Mr Buchanan was an exceptional apprentice.

''The more effort you put into your apprentice, the more they can achieve, and the better the return,'' he said.

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