By John Bleasby
The 2019 Skills Canada National Competition, held May 28 and 29 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, closed out after two days of intense competition in 44 skill categories. Medal winners in both the secondary and post-secondary competitions came from all provinces and territories, representing six skilled trade and technology sectors, including: transportation, construction, manufacturing and engineering, information technology, service and employment. While the medal winners were geographically wide spread, Ontario’s contingent of 60 teams came away with more Golds than any other province — 15 in total — and a total medal haul of 34.
Approximately 7,500 student visitors, industry leaders, government officials were also in attendance, taking part in some of the onsite activities such as the Essential Skills Stage and over 50 Try-A-Trade and Technology activities. Several industry celebrities were on hand too, including HGTV’s Kate Campbell and Sebastian Clovis.
Building a foundation of skilled trades for the future
The goal and objective of the National Competition is to engage Canadian youth and promote all of the exciting careers that are available to them in the skilled trades and technologies. According to Skills Canada, it is the only national multi-trade and technology event of its kind for young students and apprentices in the country.
“Events like the Skills Canada National Competition provide a platform for competitors to demonstrate and develop their skills to be more prepared for the world of work,” said Shaun Thorson, Chief Executive Officer, Skills Canada. “It also gives young Canadians who have never been exposed to Skilled Trades and Technology careers a chance to learn about these occupations through experiential activities,”
The Nationals event took place in the Halifax Exhibition Center, and was so large that some of events, like the carpentry competition, overflowed outside. “We were set up in tents in the parking lot. It was a little bit of a challenge, but we overcame that,” Len Rance said. Rance is a member of the National Technical Committee, and attended in Halifax as the Ontario representative on the Carpentry Committee. He was also overseeing the two Ontario carpentry entries, Iain Corbett from Halton Catholic District School Board, and Justin Shortreed from Fanshawe College.
Carpentry is always a highlight
The carpentry competition is always a highly contested event that attracts lots of spectator interest. It’s a two-day individual competition, not a team event. Each competitor worked within a 12 x 16-foot work area, and supplied their own hand tools. All power tools used at the Nationals were once again provided by DeWalt.
“The secondary competitors built a small, low-gabled roof building with a bench and a railing around it,” Rance said. “The post-secondary project was a little bit more elaborate —a playhouse with a cottage roof and a railing around the front. They were good projects for the time allotted.”
However, the Skills Canada National Competition is about more than simply winning a medal. “All the competitors really love the experience of being part of a national championship and to have the opportunity to compete at that level,” said Rance. He was also impressed by what he observed. “Given the level of skill that I saw, if these young people want to pursue a career in the trades, I think we’ve got a good future ahead of us. In fact, I would say most of the post-secondary competitors were already on a career path to become a licensed carpenter. Given the commitment also shown by the secondary competitors — to compete in the provincials and get ready for this national competition — I would say that most of them are looking at a similar career path.”
The 2020 Skills Canada National Competition will be held at the Vancouver Convention Centre, Vancouver, British Columbia, on May 28 – 29, 2020.
To see the complete list of the 2019 medalists, please visit the Skills Canada Website