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Ready, Set, Build!

Robin Martin

While everyone was a buzz about the 2010 Olympics and Canada’s strong performances, something great was also going on very close to home on February 17th and 18th, 2010.  Picture this, 2 days, 700+ students, 35 schools, 4 students per team, 4 different challenges, 4 different skill sets, and all under one roof. The excitement and energy was amazing, the tickets were free and I didn’t even have to pay for parking.

Skills Canada – I had heard of this program, but had no idea the extent of the wonderful opportunities it provides for youth. My 12 year old son along with 3 other students were under pressure to build a machine with 2nd hand directions all while under the stress of competition!  For someone who forgets to brush his teeth and forgets to bring home his lunch bag, it was a thrill to watch him bring his ‘A-game’. After a full day of designing and building, they accomplished their goals. Whether they won or not isn’t important, rather it is about the opportunity provided for this future generation of highly skilled labourers.  I saw children figuring out what they wanted to do that day. I saw parents excited that their child has a passion that doesn’t involved thousands of dollars and 5:00 am practices.  I saw their imaginations opening wide. I saw students marveling at the chance to use tools not often available in the classroom.  There were no complaints about being undervalued, over-worked and underpaid.   I saw true excitement and it was fabulous!

Although this was a junior Skills Canada competition, I would encourage parents, community leaders and media to consider promoting this event even more in the future. 

In this day and age where we are hearing about the lack of high skilled labour it would seem that perhaps we are missing some grand opportunities to secure the interest and dedication of our rising stars. Encouraging them to think outside the box, outside of the classroom and perhaps heading in directions that are not status quo. Skills Canada is a national, not-for-profit organization that actively promotes careers in skilled trades and technologies to Canadian youth. Be sure to note that the Ontario Technological Skills Competition is happening in Canada’s Technology Triangle at RIM Park in Waterloo and will be held from May 17 – 19. In addition, Skills Canada is working in partnership with the National Secretariat to host the Canadian Skills Competition in Waterloo from May 20 – 23rd.

 P.S. For those people that just have to know, my son went home with a Silver medal and a big smile.

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