Prime Minister Justin Trudeau travelled to the Halifax area on Friday, where he visited with community college students taking part in a skills competition.

The event was held at the Nova Scotia Community College waterfront campus in Dartmouth.

With his sleeves rolled up, the prime minister donned a pair of safety glasses and used an industrial drill press under the guidance of an instructor.

He smiled as he flipped a mallet into the air, catching it in his right hand before hammering a wooden rack with three pegs.

Students and trades

The competition involved different disciplines, such as architectural technology and design, carpentry, graphic design and photography.

"People need to upgrade their training in order to remain competitive," Trudeau told the students. "The skills of five years ago may not be relevant today."

Courtney Gouthro of Skills Canada-Nova Scotia said the federally funded program helps promote trade and technology careers to young people. The competition's winners will advance to a national competition in June in Winnipeg.

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After the woodworking session, Trudeau shook hands and spoke to a gathering of students, staff and reporters. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

Trudeau talked about measures in the recent federal budget aimed at helping students find jobs.

"Gone are the days when going west seemed like the only option," he said in the school's carpentry workshop.

"By getting the skills they need for good, middle-class jobs here on the East Coast, Nova Scotians can settle down and raise their families in the hometowns they grew up in."

The prime minister also answered a series of questions about Canada's position on the American missile strikes in Syria following this week's chemical weapons attack, which killed at least 80 people. The U.S. fired almost 60 missiles from two warships Thursday against a government-controlled airbase in central Syria.

Trudeau said new information received Thursday from the United States persuaded him that Syrian President Bashar Assad was responsible for the chemical attack on his people.

The prime minister was in Nova Scotia last January for a town hall.