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17 June 2009

Middle school students simulate WorldSkills Calgary 2009

calgary_carpentry_250.jpgBy WorldSkills Calgary 2009 Ltd.

Although 13-year-old Wesley Corwin isn’t old enough to compete in the 40th WorldSkills Competition this September, he took on the challenge of creating a woodworking project anyway.

He was one of the 100 students from 14 Calgary Board of Education junior high schools who showed off their skills at the first annual Middle Years Skills Showcase on May 29. The event featured past Skills Canada medallists sharing their experiences and serving as inspiration to up-and-coming trade and technology talent.

“I love WorldSkills so much,” said Corwin, who created a miniature wooden crane out of 95 per cent recycled material. He says his project took about a month and a half, completed without any help from his parents or teacher. “WorldSkills is so interesting, and I think there’s a lot to offer. I’m definitely going to check it out in September and I’m really looking forward to competing in five years."

The Middle Years Showcase is one more way students are becoming further connected to the Skills Movement and WorldSkills Calgary 2009, where highly-skilled, passionate Competitors go head-to-head in 45 skill categories on the international stage.

Grade 8 student Lance Gross, who created a robotic train with light and sound sensors for the Middle Years Skills Showcase, can’t wait for the Competition to hit Calgary. This will be only the second time in WorldSkills International’s 59-year history that the WorldSkills Competition will be in Canada – the first was in 1999 in Montreal.

“It’s a great opportunity to explore what careers are out there,” Gross said. He plans to pursue engineering upon graduation from high school.

calgary_mobile_robotics_250.jpgLouie Riel Junior High School teacher Sharon Brotherston said she will enjoy seeing skills, trades, and technologies brought to the forefront and reach a new level of importance in Calgary in September.

“Kids have got to know there’s more than one set career path out there,” she said. “You don’t have to be a doctor, a lawyer, a secretary. It’s not all about university. I wish they did this when I was going to school."

Event panelist Jesse Murphy from Skills Canada Alberta evaluated the projects and provided feedback to the participants in the website design category. “Celebrating trade and technology talent at local, national, and international levels is an excellent way of demonstrating the value of these careers,” said Murphy. “I was impressed by the commitment these students and teachers have to pursuing excellence."

A greater interest in skills, trades, and technologies, like Brotherston has seen, will only increase in September. When Skills Finland planned to host the WorldSkills Competition in 2005, they developed a five-year plan with the event as the final stage. As a result of their plan, Finland saw a 20 per cent increase in applications to vocational training programs over those five years.

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