VIU students earn Skills Canada medals

May 24, 2011 - 6:43am

The first week of June will be a busy one for Ladysmith student Stryder Cooke.

Cooke, who is nearing completion of a 10-month Career Technical Centre program at Vancouver Island University, recently won gold in the automotive service category at the B.C. Skills Canada competition.

The 17-year-old is headed to Quebec City along with top students from across the country for the Skills Canada national competition.

“I’m looking forward to it. I’ve never played competitive sports so it’s something I’m not used to but I’m sure it will be interesting,” Cooke says.

Skills Canada competitions test students in more than 40 trades and technology fields. The national, not-for-profit organization works with employers, educators, labour groups and governments to promote skilled trades and technology careers among Canadian youth.

“It’s a fantastic learning opportunity,” says Dean Cadieux, Cooke’s VIU automotive instructor. “There’s a lot of pressure but it’s an honour just to get to this level of competition and it helps students get work in their chosen fields.”

In Quebec, Cooke faces two days of tests in skills such as precision measurement, information retrieval, customer relations and an array of mechanical assessments, Cooke will catch a late-night flight back home to join his Ladysmith Secondary School friends for prom night.

Cooke, along with fellow Vancouver Island University students Kyle Campbell (welding), Melody Kostuma (culinary arts) and Jade Eliason (refrigeration), combined for five awards at the Skills Canada provincial competitions.

“Skills Canada competitions are a great way for students to demonstrate their talent and training under demanding circumstances. We’re proud of all our students’ success,” says Fred MacDonald, Dean of Trades and Applied Technology at VIU. “Their competitive spirit and the first-rate training from our instructors will serve them well in their chosen fields.”

Cooke and Campbell each earned citations for safety during the provincial competition.

Mark Egan, Health and Safety Coordinator at VIU, says students and their instructors can be particularly proud of the safety accolades.

“Health and safety are priorities in trades programs at Vancouver Island University,” says Egan. “Instructors ensure training meets WorkSafe BC standards so that each student is prepared to enter the workforce knowing his or her rights and obligations.”

Rick McDonough, Coordinator, SD68 Career Technical Centre (CTC) and Secondary School Apprenticeships, says the Skills Canada regional, provincial and national competitions are a highlight for the more than 90 students who take part in 14 CTC programs each year.

“Whether they win or lose, students who take part in Skills Canada events always enjoy the camaraderie,” says McDonough.

“Home schools and individual instructors enjoy seeing the students do well in competitions and it's great to acknowledge expertise in "hands-on" fields as just as important to our culture as academic achievement.”

McDonough encourages high school students to apply early if they are interested in the CTC option for Grade 12. There is strong interest particularly in programs such as hairdressing, culinary arts, baking and welding.

For more information:

Career Technical Centre:

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