CANOE Network

The Toronto Sun CareerConnection


Skilled students to replenish job market

By Lauren Breslin
Special to The Toronto Sun

Did you know that the average age of a fully qualified tradesperson is 48 years old? That means that in the next seven to 10 years, there will be almost a 100% turnover in many skilled trades.

To address this concern, students from across Canada come together every year to compete in the Canadian Skills Competition.

This year marked the 9th annual Skills Canada event, which took place from May 29 to June 1 in Waterloo, Ont., allowing young Canadians studying a skilled trade or technology to challenge themselves, advance their craft and become the best in their discipline.

Students first compete at local, regional and provincial events to win the right to represent their province at the Canadian Skills Competition. The objective of the exercise is to provide hands-on experience for the competitor and to raise awareness about trades and technology careers.

"This is definitely a positive experience for the competitors," says Greg Beselaere, manager of communications for Skills Canada -- Ontario. "When everything's all over, you can see how much more confident these people are in their own abilities, as they've gone through different competitive stages to compete at the national level."

Over the course of three days, more than 400 talented students from across Canada competed in 41 skilled contests. Some of the first-place winners from this year's competition include Dario Garcia and Paul Foumier for computer animation; Meghan-Kelly Horosko for hairstyling; Seneca Cunningham for electronics; Heather McCarton for floristry; John Rosse for plumbing; Kyle Hinteregger for welding; Jonathan Epp for aircraft maintenance; Thomas Sorensen for brick masonry; Sean Mather and Amanda Stoutenburg for TV and video production; and James Babineau, Danny Gosselin, Pascal Lacombe and Michel Plourde for the robotics challenge.

"Job-related experience is something the students take away from this because the contests are all designed by people within industries," Beselaere says.

Skills Canada -- Ontario is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting the development of youth in skilled trades and technology. Through interactive programs, this organization provides young people with the tools they need to succeed, ensuring that Canada remains competitive in the global marketplace.

(Reach freelancer Lauren Breslin at

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