Auto Service World
Feature   June 10, 2014   by

Top automotive trade students compete at Skills Canada National Competition

Clark Holmes, an automotive apprentice from Red River College in Manitoba is Canadas top automotive trade student. Holmes won the gold medal for automotive service at the 20th Skills Canada National competition last week in Mississauga.

By Sarah Voigt

Clark Holmes, an automotive apprentice from Red River College in Manitoba is Canada’s top automotive trade student.

Holmes won the gold medal for automotive service at the 20th Skills Canada National competition last week in Mississauga.

A member of Team Manitoba, Holmes outranked the top post-secondary students from each province in a two-day competition that covered service information retrieval, engine mechanical, fuel systems, engine management, ignition systems, vehicle emission systems, electrical accessories, electrical, braking systems, suspension and steering, power trains, component identification and precision measurement.

This year, competitors were tested on a Volkswagen Jetta Trendlines+ 2.0l, and an Audi A3 2.0T Quattros as well as classroom equipment provided by Consulab and some of the local trade schools.

Holmes will go on to represent Canadian automotive service at the 43rd WorldSkills Competition in São Paulo, Brazil in 2015.

James Bowes, an apprentice at Steele Ford Lincoln in Halifax, N.S. won silver in the automotive service post-secondary category. Bronze went to Stanton Larose from Algonquin College in Ottawa.

Bowes, who has competed four times at the national level, says competition experience is key to his success.

“Competing in previous years definitely gives me an advantage. You learn what you can ask and what you should ask. You don’t waste as much time doing things that you won’t get good results from. I’ve learned to manage my time well.”

The national skills competition also showcased trade students at the high school level. Brandon Liang, a grade 12 student at Camrose Competence High School in Alberta earned top marks. Silver and bronze were awarded to Ethan Raymond from Bluewater Collegiate in Walkerton, Ont. and Matthew Dyck from Highland Secondary School in Comox, British Columbia.

Gold winner Liang says Skills Canada is what got him interested in the trade, and he’s found his calling as a service technician.

“My teacher got me into skills two year ago and I’ve been hooked on it ever since. I’ve always had a passion for cars but I never thought I’d be working on them for a living before this.”

Second-place winner Ethan Raymond, says the competition was challenging but well worth it.

“It is very difficult competition, and not something I’d take lightly, but they do challenge us and I personally I really like the challenge,” he explains. “I didn’t do a whole lot of preparation, I tried to take it easy and clear my head. I went over my textbook a few times and some overall review of a vehicle and I think it paid off.”

Alongside the automotive service contenders, over 500 students competed in 42 trade competitions across the six major trade sectors: construction, services, manufacturing, transportation, information technology and employability.

“The Skills Canada National Competition is a great opportunity for young people to learn about skilled trades and technology careers through hands on activities and inspiring presentations,” said Skills Canada CEO Shaun Thorson.

This year’s competition theme was “Essential Skills” and all events and activities highlighted the importance of proficiency in the nine essential skills: reading, document use, numeracy, writing, communication, working with others, thinking, computer use and continuous learning.

Also in attendance was AIA Canada’s new Human Resources Advisory Committee, conducting research on employee recruitment, apprenticeship and education in an effort to reduce the labour shortage within the automotive sector. 

AIA Canada president and CEO Marc Brazeau, says, “Members of the committee were able to attend the competition this year, which was an invaluable experience and opportunity. Together we will be collecting concrete data on the driving factors regionally, provincially and nationally to better understand the issues and from there create viable solutions to the labour challenges facing our industry.”

This year’s national skills competition attracted over 7,500 spectators to the International Centre in Mississauga, Ont. New this year, visitors were invited to “Try a trade” as they toured the show floor.

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