More than 200 students were at St. Lawrence College taking part in the annual Limestone skills competition on Friday.
Participants came from the Limestone District School Board and the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board.
The competition’s technical chair, Craig Sindall, says the two-day event is about pointing students to where the jobs are.
“It’s all about exposing kids to skilled trades. There’s so many opportunities with skilled trades for young people in Ontario.”
In 2015, Skills Canada estimated the country would be short 200,000 workers in the skilled trades as baby boomers retire.
Sindall says many trades pay very well.
“They can make as much money with their hands in a trade or as a technician in this business or as a plumber, carpenter technician.”
Heavy equipment service is a new program offered at Napanee District Secondary School. It’s also a trade new to the competition.
Isaac Osborne, a Grade 11 student at Napanee’s high school, says he loves to program, comparing it to playing with life-sized Tonka toys. He says it’s also helped him land a job at a shop called Tim’s Truck and Equipment.
The demand for workers in the field is so high, Osborne says other employers have also expressed an interest in hiring him.
“It feels cool to be noticed. People notice this kid actually has potential.”
Also from Napanee and in the same program, Owen Lambert says the two-day competition is a great way to demonstrate what he’s learned.
“The skills competition is just testing us to see how well we perform by ourselves with a little bit of mentoring,” he said.
Gold medal winners in each of the different trades at the competition will move on to Toronto next for the Skills Ontario competition in May.