Nfld. & Labrador

Skills Canada competition helps students consider trades, technology careers

Over 350 students assembled at CNA's Prince Philip Drive campus in St. John's Saturday for the 17th annual Skills Canada Intermediate Challenge.

Gold medal winners move on to provincial competition and a chance to represent N.L. in national contest

Julia Rose says a teacher encouraged her to start competing in the Skills Canada NL competitions. She went on to win a silver medal at the national level and is now studying to become an electrician. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

More than 350 students representing 30 different schools assembled at the College of the North Atlantic's Prince Philip Drive campus in St. John's on Saturday for the 17th annual Skills Canada Intermediate Challenge. 

The idea behind the event is to give kids the opportunity to compete in different trade, technology and employability areas.

"We really believe that at the intermediate level, students in grades 7, 8 and 9 need exposure to the skilled trade and technology careers so that they can be better informed," Christine Greene, president of Skills Canada NL, told CBC News.

The students competed in 17 different trade areas, which included public speaking, computer animation, television and video production, information technology, robotics, green energy and more.

Christine Greene, president of Skills Canada NL, says skilled trades and technology career fields will always be important to Newfoundland and Labrador. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

Those who snagged themselves a gold medal during Saturday's competition will be invited to compete at the provincial level against high school students in the upcoming Skills Canada Provincial Competition. 

From there, those winners have the opportunity to represent Newfoundland and Labrador at the 26th annual Skills Canada National Competition being held in Vancouver in May.

"I started with Skills Canada because of my skilled trades class. My teacher told me to compete," said 18-year-old Holy Spirit High School graduate Julia Rose.

Rose has been to the national competition twice, brought home a silver medal and is currently in her first nine-month block of training to become an electrical apprentice.

"It was a pretty big deal. I was surprised but very proud.… I worked really hard for it and was happy to find out I got silver."

Rose says Skills Canada helps open the world of trades and technology career fields for young people to consider after graduation. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

Rose, like many students, wasn't sure what kind of a career she wanted to chase after high school. She said it wasn't until she started competing with Skills Canada that she found her passion in the electrical trade. 

Rose said Skills Canada opens up a new world of careers to young students and helps them gain perspective on what they can do after graduation. 

"I think they're amazing. They definitely shape young minds and show them what's available in the field of trades and technologies," she said. 

"Especially for the trades that aren't as prominent. They definitely showcase them and give you a chance to see what you like and show you that there's options out there."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Jeremy Eaton