Skills Canada, Ontario – The Opportunities are Endless!
Skills Canada, Ontario has a mandate to encourage more Ontarian youth to explore the many career options that are available in the skilled trades and technologies.
I spent an afternoon in Waterloo with the staff of Skills Canada, Ontario. Here, I met a group of dedicated and talented men and women who have the opportunity to meet and mentor those young men and women who want to address the challenges of choosing a career in skilled trades and technologies.
My initial contact was Gail Smyth, the Executive Director for Ontario. Gail and I have known each other for years and I’ve been fortunate to speak at several of her very successful events. Gail was the innovator for Skills Canada and over the past 12 years has taken the organization to new heights.
When I facilitated a one day training program on the art and science of ethical and effective networking at the Skills Canada Conference in Ottawa in June, I was asked to provide a similar training program for the Ontario team – needless to say I was delighted!
For those of you who know me – I love young people, and there is nothing more exciting for me than seeing them expand their horizons and choose career options that might take them along an entirely different career path than they had previously considered.
Strange as it may seem, I was on a founding committee of what was the predecessor of Skills Canada. It all began in Barrie with a few dedicated people from Volkswagen and what was then Radio Shack. The young people were given the chance to work on a car, or work on a piece of electronic equipment – and they loved it! They were proud of their accomplishments and wanted to know how they could learn more about “the trades and technology”.
Apprenticeship was in its infancy and the organization I was part of was looking for role models and templates around the world. Little did we know then, that Skills Canada would become a leading edge organization with an outreach that has an Ontario Technological Skills Competition that has grown into the largest skills competition in Canada, attracting over 30,000 visitors each year. It now includes seven qualifying competitions in seven contest areas, thirteen cardboard boat races, networking dinners for women, a young women’s conference and a summer camp program for grade 7 and 8 students.
Skills Canada has come a long way from those days when I was involved in Barrie, Ontario. They now reach over 1,000,000 elementary and high schools every year. Skills Canada has become an award winning organization, the awards include Yves Landry Program of the Year, ICON Program of the Year and Partners for Change from the Ontario Women’s Directorate.
When I spoke with Gail, she told me she is hoping that individuals and businesses will become more involved with the programs and activities offered through Skills Canada, Ontario. She encourages Ontarians to consider volunteering. To become mentors, judges, technical chairs, workshop leaders, emcees and Board Members.
Each year Skills Canada Ontario hosts a fundraising dinner in March to raise funds for the Skills Canada – Ontario Bursary. The Bursary assists students to participate in the programs when finances may be a prohibitive factor. The 2010 dinner will be hosted in Kitchener on March 5th and they are already looking for donated items for the silent auction table.
Want to get involved? I do!
For more information on Skills Canada, Ontario – www.skillsontario.com