The Opportunity of a Lifetime

My life changed the moment I crossed paths with the Skills/Compétences Canada competitions. I had been working as a car painter in a collision centre full-time for a couple of years when I started to notice that my skills in the shop were getting better. Tasks became easier and faster to complete. I was able to fix jobs that started to go sideways on me and understand application processes. Many of my good habits were reinforced and my infractions were pointed out. I was then able, to demonstrate my knowledge and abilities in front of industry experts from across Canada at the Skills Alberta competition for car painting.

I never felt so exhausted in my life. I still remember the feelings I had right after the competition: pride and relief. Relief that I had made it through, but overwhelmingly proud that I had made it as far as I did. I had no idea what the judges thought of my performance, I couldn’t even remember the competition; it was all a blur. I only knew that I managed to make it through the challenge, and I was proud. During the Skills Canada National Competition (SCNC) opening and closing ceremonies, all the provincial teams were together. The energy in the building was so positive and it connected the different teams. I think everyone enjoyed the experience over anything else, sharing the podium or cheering on new friends, it was an experience that I will never forget. My confidence grew from being a part of the team and I felt like I had gained so much knowledge from the whole competition journey.

The 2018 Skills/Compétences Canada National Competition was a qualifying year for the 45th WorldSkills Competition. The two top age-eligible candidates were selected in 29 skill areas and are training this year with the help of a mentor and an expert. The competitors will face off at the World Skills Selection event, which will take place in conjunction with the Skills Canada National Competition 2019 in Halifax on May 28 and 29. The prospects will complete a test project that has been created according to the WorldSkills technical description. The winning participant will join WorldSkills Team Canada 2019 and represent their skilled trade or technology during a four-day competition in Kazan, Russia.

More than 1,300 competitors from up to 79 countries and regions will compete in more than 50 skill areas at the Kazan Expo International Center on August 22 to 27. Autobody repair and car painting are both trades that are represented at the global event.

Four young apprentices are currently in the middle of their training for the WorldSkills Selection event. Jason Sherle and Muhammad Afzal are training for autobody repair. Maggie Friesen and Adrien Roy are training for car painting. The challenge the competitors will face is not only that of trade task completion, but also their mental dexterity. They will be out of their comfort zone, away from their country. Foreign foods, languages and places will be a big distraction for them. They may see equipment or materials that are unfamiliar to them. On top of that, there will be more people watching and filming them then ever before.

Preparing for this type of competition requires a lot of preparation and collaboration. This year, I will have the opportunity to travel to Kazan, Russia, with Team Canada to participate in the WorldSkills Competition as the expert for car painting. I am working with 31 experts from other countries to give the competitors the best circumstances to demonstrate their abilities. My role is to provide guidance to WorldSkills Team Canada prospects and their trainers and to work with industry members to help contribute resources and training. I have had the pleasure to meet and spend time with Maggie and Adrien, developing and assessing their abilities for the challenge. Both are very strong prospective competitors, they are working full-time and training throughout this year.

The opportunities they have this year will put them ahead in their career. Receiving specialized training and getting the opportunity to represent Canada at the World Skills competition will be a lifechanging event for all the competitors. Over the past couple of years, I have been able to talk to young students about their experiences in the trades — how they get involved and what interests them about a Skills Canada event.

I help organize the Skills Canada Alberta provincial competition and I travel with the Skills Canada National Competition (SCNC) and participate on the technical committee for the car painting trade. My involvement in the organization has allowed me to see and connect with the passion that students have for many trade industries.

The connection to other people and pushing themselves to do the best they can is a common point. The events allow younger students to see the perseverance the high school and postsecondary competitors have. Many competitors gain valuable knowledge from experts in their field and improve their skills in their industry. Helping organize and judge the competition and meeting industry members from across Canada has been an amazing experience for me. Interacting with competitors has helped me to see what brings people to the trade and what drives them to compete against their peers.

A whole group of people from different trades and technologies have touched my life through Skills Canada. I feel connected to many amazing people in each event; I feel inspired and grateful. My journey started with a simple “yes” to the provincial Skills/Compétences Canada Alberta Competition. 

About Skills/Compétences Canada

Skills/Compétences Canada(SCC) was founded in 1989. The organization promotes skilled trade and technology careers to youth. It is a national, multitrade and technology competition for students and apprentices. SCC provides students with an opportunity to showcase their competence in a trade or technology by participating in simulated challenges and are scored according to industry standards. The Skills movement is international, with a global competition held every two years.

The organization inspires youth to discover careers that are available in the skilled trades and technology industries. The event changes lives and demonstrates the expertise and increasing demand for skilled workers. It also gives an opportunity for schools to travel with their students and see the events first-hand. It sometimes sparks an interest in a career that a student has never considered.

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