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30 August 2012

Skills Canada participates in the APEC Youth Skills Camp

p1000285.jpgBy Natalee Lewis, Team Leader, Canadian Delegation APEC Youth Skills Camp, Skills/Compétences Canada 

Skills/Compétences Canada participated in the APEC Youth Skills Camp, 9-19 August 2012 in China. The opportunity, made possible by the Government of Canada and hosted by the Chinese Government, facilitated a platform to discuss the promotion of youth vocational careers and training among Asian-Pacific economies.

The Canadian delegation was comprised of past Competitors from the Skills Canada National Competition (SCNC) and past WorldSkills Team Canada Competitors, including;

  • Michael Christensen, Medallion for Excellence Winner in Mechanical Engineering Design - CAD, WorldSkills London 2011
  • Haley Lonsdale, 5th place winner in the skills category of Restaurant Service, SCNC 2010
  • Hilary Pelerine, gold medal winner in hairstyling, SCNC 2011
  • Adrian Schut, Medallion for Excellence winner in mobile robotics, WorldSkills London 2011

Canada was one of 17 economies represented and 5 of the 100 delegates participating in the cultural exchange. The camp participated in youth forums, factory visits with question and answer periods, skills demonstrations such as clay teapot making, embroidery, and 2D/3D movie animation. There was also a regional skills competition in Wuxi where local youth participated in Electrical Installation, CNC lathe, Sewage Treatment and 2D/3D Animation.

In cultural exchange discussions, we discovered that member economies faced similar economic development challenges with skilled trade shortages and that their message to promote skilled trades careers was fragmented. Looking at Canada’s economic landscape, industries that depend on skilled trade workers are key drivers of the Canadian economy and contribute over 50% of Canada’s GDP – or over $550 billion (Statistics Canada). Industry is driven by innovation, and only skilled trade workers can bring the hands-on experience, problem-solving and critical thinking skills required.

One major initiative that became a common theme throughout the camp that addressed skilled trade shortages was hosting skilled trade and technology competitions domestically as an initiative to promote vocational skills careers. Furthermore, as the only Member Organization to WorldSkills International to participate in the Youth Skills Camp, Skills/Compétences Canada found that there was a lot of interest as to how youth achieve the opportunity to represent their country/region at the WorldSkills Competition, and how Member Organizations to WorldSkills International can further leverage international participation as a means to promote vocational skills careers.

Overall it was a truly enlightening experience to be able to exchange information with other APEC member economies. Regardless of some economies being in different stages of economic development, it was insightful to understand the role and importance of the skilled labour market on the global economy and how skills competitions are a universal means to work with industry, educators, and youth to sustain and promote economic growth.