Demonstrating Excellence in the Skilled Trades
From right, Construction and Custom Woodworking teacher Mark Lee, carpentry students James Hancock and Jake Hulse, winner Caleb Mills with gold medal, and home-building team Nicholas Button, Kyler Hamilton, Nick Regon and Kyle Rowsell, at BDHS in Bradford. Miriam King/Bradford Times/Postmedia Network
The 2017 Skills Ontario Competition saw 2,300 competitors from Elementary schools, Secondary schools and Colleges across Ontario competing in 68 skilled trades and technologies.
Students vied for Gold, Silver and Bronze medals in the manufacturing, transportation, construction, service and technology sectors, at the Toronto Congress Centre, May 1-2. In some contests, there were cash prizes for the winners, as well as potential job offers from partner organizations.
Elementary school students participated in workshops and challenges that introduced them to the skilled trades, while Secondary and post-secondary competitors were judged on their skills in completing their contest projects, as well as job interview and related “soft” skills.
Seven students in the Simcoe County District School Board won medals at the Skills Ontario competition, including Kate Webster from Nantyr Shores Secondary School in Innisfil who won Bronze in Restaurant Service, Missy Archibald from Banting Memorial High School in Alliston who won Gold in Hairstyling, and Caleb Mills from Bradford District High School who won Gold in Cabinetmaking. Both Caleb Mills and Missy Archibald were chosen to be part of Team Ontario, going on to represent the Province at the Canada National Competition in Winnipeg, at the end of May.
BDHS sent a total of 7 Grade 12 students to the Skills Ontario competition, 3 in the carpentry, and a team of 4 in the framing/home-building competition.
Mills, a Grade 12 student, beat out entries from 26 other schools to take the Gold – the first time a Bradford High student has advanced to the Nationals.
Contestants were given their drawings at 7:30 a.m., and had until 3 p.m. to build their project – a cherrywood cabinet. For Mills, the hardest part “was probably just time-management. Just getting it all done on time.” What he enjoyed most? “I just enjoy putting the pieces together.”
“It's the creativity,” said Mark Lee, who teaches the High Skills Major Program in Construction and Custom Woodworking at BDHS. He will be accompanying Caleb to Winnipeg, on May 29.
Mills' success started at the School Board level, with a Skills competition in Huntsville. Since then, each round has become more difficult, and more challenging. The Nationals will involve 2 days of competition – with Mills required to do the work and the problem-solving on his own, without input from his teacher during the day.
Caleb has honed the skills he learned in the classroom by working part-time with a local home renovation company, and has plans to take carpentry at Conestoga College, “and get into the trades.”
“Those who compete at the Skills Ontario Competition are the future of skilled trades and technologies in Ontario,” said Skills Ontario Executive Director Gail Smyth. “Because of the contribution from many industry, education and government partners, including the Government of Ontario, Skills Ontario is able to help prepare Ontario's youth for a highly skilled workforce of tomorrow.”