Best of the best compete at provincial skills competition

Jason Kerr
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More than 400 high school and post-secondary students from around the province met in Prince Albert of Friday for the 2014 Skills Canada Saskatchewan competition.

Dale Williamson competes in the industrial mechanical/millwright portion of the 2014 Skills Canada Saskatchewan Competition at SIAST on Friday. 

Competitors competed in 39 different events, of which 30 were held in Prince Albert, for a chance to represent Saskatchewan at the National Championships in June.

“I find it pretty fun, actually,” competitor George Myers says.  “A lot of people have been showing up and it does look good on a resume.”

Myers is part of a team from Prince Albert’s SIAST Woodland Campus competing in the industrial mechanical/millwright event.  It’s his first time competing at this type of event, and although he says it’s nerve-wracking, he is enjoying himself.

“I like the challenge and getting to do new things,” he says.  “The machining part I love because you get to actually build stuff.”

While all the competitors are hoping to win, victory isn’t the only benefit.  The experience does help with future job opportunities.

“The very fact that you even attempt something like this competition really says a lot about your drive and ambition and goals and nerve,” electrical wiring competition organizer Norm Walker says.

Walker isn’t being dramatic.  The electrician instructor from the SIAST Palliser Campus in Moose Jaw has spent 10 years organizing skills competitions, so he’s seen a well versed in what’s expected at the event.

He says the quality always ranges, but everyone takes things seriously, since it’s not just a competition-it’s also a showcase.

“We all believe in our trade and this is the way we like to show the world,” he says.

As for the event itself, Skills Canada Executive Director Al Gabert called the atmosphere fantastic at Thursday’s opening ceremonies.  He says it’s a good way for competitors to get some recognition for their talents, while displaying their skills to potential employers.

“There are lots of industry people wanting to see the best of the best,” he says.  “It’s a great opportunity for (competitors).”

Competitive events aren’t limited to the trades.  Awards are given out in events such as cooking, hairstyling, photography, public speaking and robotics, along with the more common trades like welding and carpentry.

Attendees compete in two groups, secondary (high-school) and post-secondary.  The gold medal winner in each event represents Saskatchewan nationally in Toronto.

Saskatoon will hold next year’s National Championships.

Organizations: Prince Albert, Skills Canada

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Moose Jaw, Toronto Saskatoon

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