The Skills Canada Competition: Put your job skills to the test
The many programs at Centennial College share one thing in common: A commitment to giving students practical, hands-on skills to succeed in whatever career they choose. If you’re working in a skilled trade, and want a chance to take your skills to the competitive stage, then the college can provide that platform to you with the Skills Canada Competition. Held every year, the competition sees students from almost every trade imaginable test their skills in a competitive environment on a local, and eventually, a national stage. From there, the winners can even take their skills to the international level, like the WorldSkills Competition last year in São Paulo, Brazil.
How it works
Angelo Spano is the National Training Committee (NTC) chair for Ontario for the Heavy Duty Equipment part of the competition, which is just one of the many skilled trades represented at the event. “It’s a big field,” he says. “There’s competitions in Aircraft, Automotive, Auto Body, Auto Paint, Motorcycle and Recreational Sports, Power Sports, and others.”
“The previous venue occupied four ice pads, a gymnasium, and probably four massive tents outside,” he says as an example. By the time the competition went international, Canada sent 38 competitors to Brazil.
The competition begins at Centennial College, for a regional event, before the winners move up to higher levels. “We have our own regional competition,” Angelo says, “to see who’s going to represent Centennial on the national level. It will be in March here at Ashtonbee Campus, during our open house event. There, we pick our representatives for our college at the provincial competition, because now they’re going to be competing against other apprentices and other schools in Ontario. And from there, the winner from Ontario is picked.”
Climbing the ranks
At the regional level, participants in the competition have six tasks to complete, with a time limit. Judges grade them on finding the solution itself, as well as the process of it. Safety is a big component of it, too, so competitors have to make sure to use the right gear and follow the correct procedures.
“The task will take exactly an hour,” Angelo explains. “We let them know at the 20 minute mark, then at the 10 minute mark, and then it’s done. Then there will be a ten minute lapse to set up the tasks again for the next competitor, they’ll have a quick break, then they’ll rotate and set up the next task. It’ll go for 6 to 8 hours depending on how many tasks you have.”
As the winners move to the next level of competition, the events get more challenging, with more time allotted. “At the national level,” he explains, “we typically have two hours for each task, over two days. And at the world’s level, it’s three hours over four days.”
“Canada had 38 competitors,” he explained, “with each person representing their specific trade. Ryan was representing Canada for the heavy equipment trade.”
What do students get out of it? According to Angelo, the biggest advantage is a sense of self-worth, along with recognition. “To say that you’re stepping outside of your box, your comfort zone, and for you to accomplish that speaks volumes,” he says. “The recognition that you get as well, the job opportunities that come with that, it’s a way to compete against yourself, to see how good you can be.”
Students interested in participating in the latest competition can talk to their school’s Skills Competition representative (Angelo handles Heavy Equipment, John Dixon handles Truck and Coach, David Weatherhead handles Automotive, Daniel Chudy handles Autobody and Paint, Roy King handles Motorcycle Sports). “I always say I wish this was around when I was an apprentice,” Angelo says. “I’d have loved to have been involved in something like this.”
By Anthony Geremia