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Trades skills put to test

The next generation of trades workers put their skills to the test at the Central Alberta Regional Skills Canada competition at Red Deer College on Saturday.

Roughly 40 high school students from Central Alberta high schools competed in auto service, culinary arts, electrical wiring, television and video production, carpentry and welding competitions. Hunting Hills High School will host a second competition featuring hairstyling and cabinet making on April 19.

The gold and silver medal winners from each skill category in Saturday’s competition will qualify for the Provincial Skills Competition in Edmonton on May 10 and 11.

Many students took the opportunity to use their practical skills outside the classroom while others saw the competition as an opportunity to learn more about a potential career.

“We’re taking those kids from high school at the regional level and we celebrate them,” said Patricia Rokosh, RDC Dean of Trades and Manufactoring Technologies.

“We validate what they do well is valuable to the community that they live in.”

Scott Compton, a Grade 12 student at Notre Dame High School, performed his electrical wiring test with ease. The 17-year-old discovered wiring last year at school and snagged a job as an apprentice earlier this year. Compton said he will finish his apprentice hours and work his way up to obtaining his journeyman.

“There’s a big need for electricians,” said Compton. “Electricity will always be around.”

Madison Webb, 16, a Grade 10 student at Lacombe Composite High School, was one of the five female students trying their hand at the welding competition. Next year, Webb hopes to participate in the school’s registered apprentice program (RAP). RAP allows high school students to work as an apprentice and earn credits toward both an apprenticeship program and a high school diploma.

Webb said she is considering a career in sports medicine but would consider doing welding for a few years to earn some money.

Alberta predicts a shortage of 114,000 skilled workers by 2021. Rokosh said the province needs good people, young people and people looking for career change to think of trades as a first choice career to help fill the gap.

“Trades is not a career for people who can’t do anything else,” said Rokosh. “Trades are for a people who have good critical thinking skills, who are able to apply theory to practical. It’s good for people who are good problem solvers. And it’s for people who do not want a career sitting at a computer.”

Rokosh said many young people get their journeymen’s licence and start their own businesses. She said you just have to look around central Alberta to see the high number of small to mid businesses. Many of which, she said, were started by people with a trades background.

“It’s such a large segment of the Alberta economy is based on trade knowledge and trade skills,” she said. “People moving here and living are adopting that Alberta entrepreneurial mentality. Here’s the work and how do I fit within this.”



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