A hands-on ability, whatever the skill, is a talent that tends to go unrecognized and, too often, it is under-appreciated, even by those who possess the talent.

That’s why I was delighted to be asked again to participate as a judge (one of five) in the annual “Show Us Your Skills” competition organized by Discover Skills BC for high school students.

Students create a short video about a trade or skill that they are interested in pursuing. Prizes for the top three videos are presented to both the student and the high school that they attend.

The high level of expertise that some of these kids already possess was remarkable and the video entries this year were outstanding.

First prize this year went to Connor Shaw, a student at Traditional Learning Academy in Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island. He was taught to weld by his uncle and at age twelve he fabricated a flat deck for a truck he was given. More recently he added a hydraulic lift system that gives the flat deck a dump feature. Connor loves welding and plans to pursue a career in a related trade. Connor will get an Apple MacBook Air and his high school will receive $2,000.

The second prize winner was Albert Leung, who attends Steveston-London Secondary in Richmond. Albert will get an Apple iPad Air 16GB and the school will receive $1,000.

Bernice Chung, a student at Eric Hamber Secondary, in Vancouver, came third, she will receive an Apple iPad Mini, and $500 goes to the school.

Trades can offer a rewarding and fulfilling career path with a higher than average wage level and a solid future. The trades sector in BC is expected to face an overall labour shortage by 2016 that will deepen in the following years, according to WorkBC Trades Occupations Outlook (2010-2020) report (www.workbc.ca).

A goal of this video competition is to encourage more BC students to simply consider a trade as a rewarding career alternative and entice more teachers and high schools to include trades as a career option in the classroom.

In the auto service industry, the highly regarded Ford ASSET technician training program is a good example. Locally, apprentices spend four months at BCIT and four months in a BC Ford dealership (mainly in the service sector, but also in other departments) on a rotational basis. They can also choose to specialize in a specific area, such as auto electronics, and get additional upgrade certification courses through Ford training.

Most apprentice programs are four years and on-the-job training is on-going, especially in the auto service industry. Changes in new technology are rapidly transforming trades, as well as other occupations. Looking even further ahead, our growing and evolving job market will require skilled, capable people who can adapt to new challenges and new technologies.

Discover Skills BC is an initiative, funded by the BC Government, to help provide easy access for secondary students to opportunities in trades and technology training. The competition is also run in cooperation with Trades Training BC, Skills Canada and the Industry Training Authority. My fellow judges for this year’s competition were Mike Holmes, Spencer Thomson, Suki Takagi and Shelley Robinson.

You can look at the top three winning entries online at www.discoverskillsbc.ca

Contact: bob [dot] mchugh [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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