The 2018 Skills Ontario Competition is the largest of its kind in the country and in addition to providing an opportunity for young people to test their skills, it also aims to connect workers with job opportunities.
For the second year in a row, a recruitment fair will be held as part of the event featuring Walters Group, Magna International and Great Clips. Job offers will also be automatically awarded to the post-secondary medallists in select contests including plumbing, welding, precision machining, automation and control, industrial mechanic, millwright and mechatronics.
“Some students will leave with a medal in one hand and a job offer in the other hand,” said Skills Ontario CEO Ian Howcroft.
“Some companies thought this was a good way to deal with the skills shortage. It’s something we’re just getting into and we think this is an area where we can grow to help more businesses, more companies and more apprentices and skilled workers come together so they can move to their first employment opportunity.”
The competition takes place May 7 to 9 at the Toronto Congress Centre. Elementary, high school and post-secondary students from across the province are expected to compete in nearly 70 contests.
May 7 features the elementary program with challenges, career awareness workshops and the Young Women’s Conference. Most of the post-secondary contests begin May 8. The day also includes the Young Women’s Conference for secondary students and the First Nations, Metis and Inuit Student Conference.
“We’ll probably have between 1,500 and 2,000 young women out to learn about opportunities that young women have not traditionally looked at or examined or moved towards,” said Howcroft. “We have some mentoring opportunities, some try-a-trade opportunities, successful tradeswomen mentors who have gone into that field will talk about their experience, how they were able to accomplish that and the opportunities that have been presented to them.”
May 9 is the closing ceremony where medals and monetary prizes will be awarded to winners of the competition.
Skills Ontario was created to deal with the skills challenges and shortages that exist in the trades and in the technology sector, stated Howcroft, adding that is also the reason for the competition.
“Almost 30 years ago, Skills Ontario started promoting these opportunities to young people and one great way to do that is to have a competition, bring young people together to compete to demonstrate their skills to win an opportunity to compete in the national competition,” Howcroft said, adding there will be over 2,300 competitors in about 69 competitions which will draw over 30,000 visitors.
Organizers moved the event from Waterloo to Toronto a few years ago to accommodate more attendees.
“In addition to wanting to promote this to young people, we also want to promote it to educators, we want to promote it to parents,” said Howcroft. “We accommodate a lot more visitors so people can see what the skilled trades are all about in 2018 and moving forward.”
The construction sector is the largest sector at the competition and the contests include architectural technology and design; automation and control; brick masonry; cabinetmaking; carpentry (team and individual contests); electrical installations; heating systems technician; home building; horticulture and landscape; landscape design; mobile crane operator; plumbing; powerline technician; refrigeration; sheet metal work; and steamfitting/pipefitting.
In advance of the main competition, Skills Ontario hosts qualifying competitions at seven colleges across the province to prequalify participants, Howcroft noted.