Taking on the World

By Leanne Jefferies

Coming off their success at Skills Canada 2014, Justin Dambitis and Kassandra Bilodeau now have their sights set on earning trips to Brazil for WorldSkills 2015.

The best and brightest young talent from across Canada gathered in Toronto in June 2014 for the annual Skills Canada National Competition. Held from June 4 to 7, the participating Canadian youth were at their best as they competed to earn consideration for a spot on the Canadian national team for the 2015 Worldskills event. Thanks to the increased involvement of our partners, Worldskills Team Canada is able to continue their participation at this international event that brings together the world’s most talented competitors in the skilled trades and technologies.

The Worldskills Canadian Trial Competitors were selected based on their performance at the 2014 skills Canada national Competition (SCNC). Once identified, the competitor was assigned to work with an expert and Trainer — volunteers from industry or education, who possess a high level of technical expertise. They will prepare for the international competition by working on previous SCNC/Worldskills Competition projects using industry-specific methods and processes. in early 2015, the competitors will compete in the Worldskills Canadian Trials in an effort to secure a spot on Worldskills Team Canada 2015, and move on to the WorldSkills Competition being held this August in São Paulo, Brazil.

At the Worldskills Canadian Trials, competitors must demonstrate that they have reached a pre-established Canadian standard in their particular skill area. This means that not all of the WorldSkills Canadian Trials Competitors will move on to the event in São Paolo. I would like to introduce the competitors and some of the trainers and experts who are volunteering to make Canadian WorldSkills participation possible:


AARON HEBB– Canadian Expert, Team Canada

“When I received the information that the expert position for Team Canada in my trade (car painting) was open, I immediately started working on my application. Then with support from my employer, I applied.

“For me, stepping into the expert role has been a way to give back to the skills organization, which jumpstarted my career in the collision repair and refinishing industry.

I would like to provide the same experience to all youth coming into our industry. For that reason, I donate all of my spare time to the skills program. My employer understands the importance of the skills program at a national level and has fully supported my continued involvement in the organization.

“Being a previous world skills medalist, I know first-hand what is required of a competitor and what support they will need to be successful. Kassandra will be required to spend all of her spare time outside of her job as a painter, focusing her mind and sharpening her skills to be at the level required for the competition.

“My main goal is to make sure that Kassandra has every opportunity available to her and that nothing stands in the way of her achieving all the goals she sets out for herself. “New this year, we have completed the Canadian trials. The Canadian trials are a four-day world skills level competition that the competitor completes to earn their spot on Team Canada. The trials in Car painting were held at CIMIC in Saint-Georges, Quebec from January 23 to 26.

It was a great opportunity for Kassandra to experience the duration and expectations of a World skills event. This has been the best training tool to date in her preparation for WorldSkills Brazil in August 2015.

“In April, I will be travelling with Kassadra to New Zealand, were she will compete in another WorldSkills level competition, as another stepping stone in her training preparations.”



“I have worked extremely hard over the last few months and I will work even harder in the coming months in order to become even better. My trainer and I have been challenged by the high level of difficulty of the projects that we are completing to prepare for WorldSkills.

We are investing a great deal of time, and will continue to work even harder as the event draws closer. I am enjoying this adventure and I am learning new skills and advanced techniques. Training for WorldSkills is an excellent experience and will only help me become a better painter for both the event, and also my career. I am proud to represent Canada in the Car painting global competition, and I’m looking forward to participating in future competitions.”


 JUSTIN DAMBITIS – Autobody Repair 

“In preparing for the trials my trainer has challenged me as much as possible by practicing the different levels of heavy collision repairs. During the months leading up to my trial competition, I have completed my fourth level of training to become a journeyman and have written my red seal to become an auto body technician. I have worked very hard to expand my knowledge and sharpen my skills. I am enjoying the experience very much and appreciate my trainer investing his time to help me prepare.

“I have immense pride in Canada and being Canadian, so it is an honour to be preparing for WorldSkills. I am looking forward to participating against competitors from across the globe. I hope to represent Canada well, and demonstrate the level of skills we have as a country. I hope I will also be an inspiration to other young people entering the collision repair industry.”

CLAUDE LABONTE – Team Canada trainer, Car Painting

“As a teacher, my role is to train students to prepare to enter the labour market. It requires sharing a lot of knowledge and experience to ensure their skills develop to the level of standards set by the industry. Students who invest the time to develop their skills end up being top performers and succeed at skills Canada competitions.

“As a trainer to a potential WorldSkills competitor, I see that the bar is set very high at the skills Canada trials. Kassandra has completed her trial, and continues to work very hard during her training to master difficult tasks that challenge her to become better. Training a competitor is motivating, especially when you can see improvement day by day. I approach my role as her coach with passion, motivation and determination for Kassandra to be at her best for WorldSkills. I love this job with all my heart and it’s a privilege to help someone who is so dedicated to being the best she can be.”

Best of luck to both Kassandra and Justin as they follow their dream to represent Canada when they compete at WorldSkills 2015!

Leanne Jefferies is the Director of the CCIF skills program and AIA Canada Collision programs. She is based in Ontario, and can be reached at 905-628-3401. To learn more about the CCIF skills program, please visit ccifskillsprogram.com

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