NL’s Got Skills

By: Jason Sheppard

Students from across the province competed in the 2022 Skills Canada National Competition 

This past May, students from Skills Canada Newfoundland and Labrador competed in the Skills Canada National Competition 2022, which was held in the Vancouver Convention Centre. Out of 27 categories, these local students won 20 medals.

Skills Canada Newfoundland and Labrador is a non-profit organization that encourage youth to explore the growing opportunities in skilled trades and technology careers by offering an immersive approach to learning.

Kyleigh Mercer, communications and marketing specialist for Skills Canada Newfoundland and Labrador, tells The Herald that these competitions are a major part of their program.

“A huge part of what we do is in competitions. In the provincial competitions, we get all the competitors together at College of the North Atlantic and other schools,” Mercer says.

Whoever wins gold in these provincial competitions will then go on to compete in Nationals. Every province throughout Canada has their own Skills Canada organization. All are gathered together at a selected location. This year, the Nationals Competition event was held in Vancouver, B.C.

There, the best of each province competes, where they are eligible to win vouchers for tuition and other awards. 

This year in the Team Canada competitions, Skills Canada NL registered one competitor, Amy Pike of Keyin College. Pike competed in hairstyling and won Gold for Team Canada. She will now compete for Team Canada in the World Skills International Competition. 

Many of the convention centres where Nationals were held had local booths, where one could practice working a specific trade. Mercer, for instance, dressed up in full protective gear to try her hand at soldering pipes and virtual welding.

“It’s not just one skill these students are learning,” says Mercer. “For example, Amy’s not just learning hairstyling. She got up in front of a crowd of thousands of people, so she and the others are learning so many other skills that will help them succeed in life.”

In all, Skills Canada NL competitors earned Gold, Silver and Bronze awards as Post-secondary students competed in-person and virtually from home.

When Nationals were over, Skills Canada NL had won Gold in hairstyling, automobile tech, refrigeration/air conditioning, architectural tech and design, plumbing, electrical, carpentry, graphic design, 3-D digital game arts, IT office software, IT network, photography, video production, job search/skills, public speaking, workplace safety and baking plus others.

“We try to cover every kind of skilled career,” says Mercer. “And we like to keep everyone connected, students and teachers, even after nationals have ended.”

Skills Canada NL board chair Christine Greene says the Skills Canada National Competition is an opportunity for youth to showcase their skills and compete among the very best in their industry.

“We are so proud of Team NL and the hard work displayed at the competitions, both at home virtually and in-person in Vancouver. Our competitors will lead bright futures and inspire youth in Newfoundland and Labrador to pursue a career in the skilled trades and technology industry.”

For these programs to operate, funding is a huge part and with the help of many local companies such as ACOA, the Provincial Government Department of Immigration, Population Growth and Skills, the Department of Education and RBC they fund the Skilled Futures program. Vale funds the Career Exploration Presentations.

For Mercer, who only joined Skills Canada recently, says she feels proud of each student who worked towards a goal.

“It’s extremely fulfilling,” says Mercer. “Every single time we had one of our students’ names announced, I felt every win was my own. I’m new, but I’m so invested in seeing how hard these kids work, and they deserve every win. You can see their future right ahead of them.”

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