College and High School Skilled Trades Medalists in National Competition

The 2023 Skills Canada National Competition (SCNC) witnessed over 550 competitors attend the event in Winnipeg from May 25 to May 26. The event was intended to draw attention to the skilled trades sector and allow future workers to discover more about the trades and what they can bring to their careers. As a national, multi-trade competition, students and apprentices from across Canada were welcome to participate in more than 45 skilled trade challenges.

Many individuals from the categories had previously won gold medals in various skilled trades competitions in the country. However, the SCNC is the only multi-trade and technology competition in Canada. “Events like the Skills Canada National Competition encourage Canadian youth to discover skilled trade and technology careers through interactive activities and find their passion. It also allows us to raise awareness of these important and lucrative careers to our future skilled workforce,” said Shaun Thorson, chief executive officer of Skills/Compétences Canada.

Industry leaders and experts along with Canadian government officials attended the SCNC. Some of the exhibitions and events that competitors and attendees could participate in included the Skills Symposium, Skills Showcase featuring Indigenous peoples, the Empowering Women in the Trades initiative, and technology activities. The Skills Symposium was a networking event that allowed government and educational professionals to meet and connect. The Empowering Women in Trades initiative welcomed women leaders in the industry to network and discuss their careers in the skilled trades sector.

Approximately 250 medals were awarded to the top competitors in six categories, including manufacturing and engineering, and construction. Here are some of the winners in the manufacturing and engineering, cabinetmaking, and construction categories:

Industry Competitors

CNC Machining Medalist: Ethan McCallum, Ontario
(On the Left: Ethan McCallum)

Ethan McCallum, a first-year mechanical technician and precision skills student at Ontario’s Georgian College, took home gold for CNC Machining at the SCNC. “The feeling of taking first place in this event is amazing. I’m grateful to have been able to perform so well alongside some of the top students in the province,” He explained. “I spent countless hours working in the shop and computer lab to prepare for the competition, and I made lots of mistakes throughout the training process. Ultimately, I learned from those mistakes, and I was able to continuously improve my skills with a lot of support from faculty.” McCallum represented Team Ontario at the competition and was mentored by his college professor, Brett Austin, to prepare for the process.

Mobile Robotics Medalists: Daniel Hie & Aaron MacLaggan, New Brunswick

(Bronze medalists: Daniel Hie and Aaron MacLaggan)

Daniel Hie and Aaron MacLaggan are both students of Bernice MacNaughton High School in New Brunswick. They were awarded the Bronze Medal for Mobile Robotics from the SCNC. Industrial mobile robotics have swiftly become key to modernizing the world of manufacturing. The machinery is programmed to perform tasks in a manufacturing facility usually for stationery and workbench applications.

Cabinetmaking Medalist: Derrick Penner, Manitoba

Derrick Penner, a post-secondary student at Red River College Polytechnic in Winnipeg, won Gold for his showing at the SCNC 2023. This is Penner’s second consecutive win in the category and he was also selected for the RBC ‘Best of Region’ award at the event. His love for woodworking dates back to his time spent as a child working with his grandfather. Penner then began building and realized his love for working with his hands.

Speaking about the SCNC competition, he noted, “The project we had to build was a standing cabinet. We had the box with the cabinet. We had crown molding around it. We had a styled door with lighter corners and a diamond veneer pattern on the door panel. We also had legs with different joints that we had to use for joining the different parts of the legs together.” The most difficult aspect of the project, according to Penner, was the dovetails and legs. “I was practicing those at home for a week or two before the competition and couldn’t quite get them 100% where I wanted them, but I just did my best.”  Penner plans to acquire his Red Seal certification after he completes college and continues to work in the cabinetmaking industry.

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