Brett Gudbranson (left) and Ken Ross

Campbell River high school students get a taste of the trades

North Island College invited students and the community to try their hand at a trade

More than 350 high school students stepped out of their comfort zones on Friday and got a taste of the trades.

In an effort to showcase opportunities for young adults, North Island College’s (NIC) Campbell River campus invited students and the community to try their hand at a trade as part of hosting the Skills Canada Vancouver Island North regionals – an Olympic-style trades and technology competition.

Susan Auchterlonie, director of community relations for NIC, said the event was a chance to open the students’ eyes to the options they have with post-secondary education.

“Instructors were commenting that they had a number of students who were very engaged coming through and who expressed interest in having a career in the trades,” Auchterlonie said. “Which is great because there will be such a demand for those types of jobs in the next few years.”

She said instructors are aware of the need to get students to think “beyond the

university model.”

NIC’s Campbell River campus has hosted the North Island Skills Canada competition since 2000, with the exception of last year when it moved to Vanier Secondary School in Courtenay. Randy Grey, career co-ordinator for School District 71 (Comox Valley), has organized the event since its inception and said this year was special because the students competed in front of an audience for the first time.

More than 100 high school students from Parksville, Qualicum, Comox Valley, Campbell River, and Port Alberni competed in trades such as 2D and 3D computer animation, automotive, website design, culinary arts, architecture, electronics, graphic design, welding, digital art, and hairdressing.

Winners from the North Island, as well as other regional competitions, will advance to the provincials at the Abbotsford Tradex Centre April 17. From there, students have the chance to compete at the national skills competition which will be held in Vancouver this year at BC Place in June.

Skills Canada is a non-profit organization that partners with government, educators, private industry and labour to promote and celebrate the skilled trades and technologies as possible first choice careers for young people across each province.

Skills Canada BC hosts 13 regional and one provincial competition each year.