NSCC skills competition highlights skilled trades, opens doors of opportunity

Kirk Starratt kstarratt@kingscountynews.ca
Published on March 30, 2016

KENTVILLE - It’s a way to celebrate and showcase post-secondary students and apprentices learning skilled trades while exposing middle and high school students to an array of career opportunities.

The Nova Scotia Community College Kingstec Campus in Kentville hosted the Nova Scotia Skills Competition March 30.

Micheal Murphy of Kentville, a second-year machining student at Kingstec, understands that staying focused is important to successfully completing tasks.

This was Murphy’s first time in the precision machining competition and he was keeping an open mind. He said he didn’t have any expectations; he was just putting forth his best effort.

“I get in the zone and do what I do,” Murphy said. “I thought it would be a lot more pressure. I tune people out and do my thing.”

His first project involved making cuts in aluminum on a milling machine. He took his time in the beginning but “kind of panicked” when he realized he had only a half-hour left. However, he was able to finish with 15 minutes to spare. His second project, which he had yet to begin, was on a lathe.

Murphy said your concentration level is important when making cuts as fine as two-thousandths or three-thousandths of an inch. If you get too caught up thinking about how much time you have left, you tend to start rushing and making mistakes.

Murphy said he would recommend the machining program – and the Skills Competition – to anyone who enjoys hands-on work.

“You can make anything out of metal,” Murphy said.

He has a work experience term lined up in Windsor for the end of the school year and plans to see where his post-secondary training takes him. He appreciates that there may be fewer jobs available on graduation with an influx of workers returning from Alberta due to an economic downturn.

Several middle and high school students visited Kingstec to take in the event. Sophie MacMillan, a Grade 8 student at Pine Ridge in Kingston, said she thought all the Skills Competition activities were “very cool.”

MacMillan said the competitors are very knowledgeable when it comes to their given specialties. They seemed “very engaged in what they’re doing” and are passionate about it.

MacMillan said she and her classmates will be going on to high school and post-secondary education and the Skills Competition, which included a career showcase, was “a great way to look at options.” She hopes to one day do something in the realm of teaching.

Kaleigh Neil, a Grade 7 student at Berwick and District School, said she particularly enjoyed learning about the Electronics program. She got to build a device that incorporated motion sensor technology.

Neil said she’s considering a career as a DJ, a professional gamer or a manga comics or anime artist. She’s also considering taking the Electronics program once she finishes high school.

“I’ve fixed a lot of electronics before,” she said.

Neil said her mother attended Kingstec. Neil wanted to take part in the school visit to “see what happens” at the campus.

kstarratt@kingscountynews.ca

About the Skills Competition

Skills Canada Nova Scotia executive director Courtney Gouthro said the Skills Competition is a way to recognize the importance of skilled trades people and expose middle and high school students to all the potential career opportunities involved.

“The Skills Competition allows an opportunity to showcase and enhance skills and strive for excellence,” Gouthro said.

The top three competitors in each category are awarded gold, silver and bronze medals. Gold medal winners can advance to the national competition in Moncton in June. Some national competitors will then go on to the world competition.

Gouthro said this gives post-secondary students and apprentices an opportunity to travel and potentially open doors for them on a national or international level.

For more information, visit www.skillsns.ca.

By the numbers

-       The Nova Scotia Skills Competition at Kingstec included 39 competitors across seven categories, including automotive service, CNC machining, electronics, heavy equipment service, landscape gardening, plumbing and precision machining.

-       This was the first in a series of four main Skills Competition events across Nova Scotia in the next three weeks.

-       In total, there are more than 40 skilled trades and technology competitions involving more than 250 apprentices and post-secondary students.

-       There were more than 330 middle and high school students from Annapolis Valley Regional School Board schools visiting Kingstec for the event.

-       In total, more than 2,000 middle and high school students will take part in Skills Competition visits across the province.