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13 August 2009

Interactive Try-a-Skill greatly beneficial for youth

wsc2009_try_a_skill_welding_250.jpgBy WorldSkills Calgary Ltd.

Close to 50,000 students visiting the 40th WorldSkills Competition will grow from interested spectators to engaged participants ready to uncover their own hidden potential in skills, trades and technologies.

Hundreds of volunteer Experts from across the province will share their enthusiasm for their chosen career at the Try-A-Skill activities located in the Skill City tent, where visitors try their hand at events ranging from Landscape Gardening to Beauty Therapy and Carpentry to Computer Animation.

“We think Skill City will be the most popular thing at the Competition,” said Lou Keresztes, Director of Skills, Apprenticeship and Education for WorldSkills Calgary 2009. 

“It’s not just for students: anybody who goes into Skill City and tries a skill will greatly benefit from the experience. It will open their eyes and change their perception on that particular field,” he explained. “Ultimately we want students and others to be inspired to find a career path that matches their interests and use the Competition as motivation to expand their knowledge of skills, trades and technologies career options.”

wsc2009_try_a_skill_stone_masonry_250.jpgThis is the first time Try-a-Skill activities will be offered at a WorldSkills Competition, although they have been featured at previous provincial and national competitions.

“It’s a blast for everyone,” said 55-year-old Leigh Smithson, a Red Deer, Alberta high school teacher who has coached students for the Provincial and Canadian Skills Competition. For the last three years he has volunteered to run the electrical wiring Try-a-Skill booth at the Skills Canada Alberta Competition.

“They [Try-a-Skill visitors] make little wire bracelets by stripping a piece of wire and putting it together like an electrician. I make sure they feel cool and make the kids giggle and laugh. They really love Try-a-Skill and get to walk away with something that they have built.”

Smithson has taught for over six years after retiring as a journeyman electrician. He has always had apprentices, but wanted to become a mentor for youth.

“Try-a-Skill is just a natural extension of being a teacher,” he said. Hairstyling teacher Jill Broker agrees with Smithson – she has trained students who have gone on to compete in the WorldSkills Competition. She will be running the Beauty Therapy Try-a-Skill in September.

“WorldSkills and Try-a-Skill shows students that you don’t just have to be a doctor or lawyer,” she said. “It allows them to see and experience what trades are out there and really exposes [them to] all kinds of different fields.” 

At Skill City, Broker will be demonstrating nail art, skin tattooing, hair, lash and eyebrow tinting, hair extensions and more.

Try-a-Skill is presented by the Calgary Herald and hosted in partnership with Skills Canada Alberta.


  • Automobile Technology - Tire change races
  • Beauty Therapy - Cosmetology skills
  • Bricklaying - Create a brick wall
  • Cabinetmaking - Wood working project
  • Carpentry - Rafter construction
  • CNC Milling - Make a key chain
  • Computer Animation - Animation creation
  • Electrical Installations - Low voltage experiments
  • Electronics - Build and test a biofeedback monitor
  • Landscape Gardening - Create a mosaic
  • Mould Making - Build a yo-yo
  • Painting & Decorating - Virtual painting
  • Plastering & Drywall Systems – Drywall project
  • Plumbing & Heating - Pipe soldering
  • Refrigeration - Copper bending project
  • Welding – Welding task

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