TRU wins big at provincial skills competition

TRU trades student placed gold and silver at this year’s provincial skills competition

Lloyd Babcock (left) and Calvin Skjeie (right), pose for a picture with Skjeie’s certificate of participation shortly after Skjeie won gold at the provincial skills competition in Abbotsford. (Submitted)

Last month, students from TRU’s Trades and Technology program competed in the 2019 Skills Canada BC provincial competition. The event, which took place on April 17, featured hundreds of high school and post-secondary participants in 52 different categories ranging from 3D animation to welding.

While TRU only ended up sending eight trades students to the competition, six of those students won either silver or gold medals. According to Baldev Pooni, TRU’s Dean of trades, this year has been one of the university’s most successful.

“These are students in our apprenticeship programs and our foundation programs,” Pooni said. “And I think that there were only one or two students that didn’t get medals. So this has been a very successful year for us.”

For TRU, the win brings greater attention to the accomplishments of its trades program. Not only does it enhance the university’s reputation, but it also shows that TRU has some of the best trades students in the province, says Pooni.

Such a win also helps with TRU’s recruitment efforts to its trades program, he believes.

“I think the thing is that the accomplishments of these students will basically be heard a recognized by up-and-coming high school students and it will motivate them to one, look at the program,” he said. “Secondly, what I think it’s doing is motivating up-and-coming students in those areas to also want to achieve that and also I think it crosses into other program areas as well.”

In addition to this, skills competitions, whether regional, provincial or national bring attention to trades careers. Given that B.C. will need 73,000 additional tradespeople over the next ten years, Pooni believes taking a trade is a great career choice.

“It is a fantastic choice for some people,” he said. “The province is going to need 73,000 additional tradespeople in the next ten years. So the opportunities are fantastic and if you enjoy problem-solving, technical problem solving it is good for you.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The win doesn’t just benefit the university either, the students themselves likely have the most to take away from such a victory. While the four winners of gold medals will move on to the national skills competition in Halifax at the end of May, all winners gain both experience and bragging rights.

For one student, Calvin Skjeie, the win makes the company he works for look that much better too.

“Calvin is the second guy from Finning who has won gold and Finning is a big supporter,” said Lloyd Babcock, Skjeie’s heavy mechanical instructor.

“For these companies, we try to promote them. We say take a look at your guys and their skills, they can hang a thing in their shop and say they won silver or gold. On top of that, next year’s nationals is a qualifier for worlds.”

The Omega congratulates the following students for their wins: Maik Stuermer (gold medal in carpentry), Mathew Chwaklinski (silver medal in electrical), Calvin Skjeie (gold medal in heavy mechanical), Jordan Brown (gold medal in plumbing), Gavin Coxon (silver medal in plumbing) and Aidan Gow (gold medal in welding).