Sixteen students from Marc Garneau CI competed in the Skills Canada Regionals competition on 25 March 2014. Held at MGCI from 8 am to 4 pm, the event included categories ranging from Graphic Design and Studio Production to 3D Character Animation.

Skills Canada is a national, nonprofit organization that aims to encourage the youth of Canada to pursue careers in the skilled trades and technologies. To achieve this, the organization hosts the national Skills Canada Competition annually. Leading up to the national competition are a series of regional and provincial competitions hosted by each Canadian province and territory, the winners of which then move on to the national event.

The areas of competition at the annual Skills Canada Competition are separated into six sectors: construction, employment, information technology, manufacturing, services, and transportation. The potential jobs range from hairstyling to technical design.

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Students participated in the  annual Skills Canada competition using computers in the tech labs. Photo courtesy of Mr. Welch.

Mr. Welch, the coordinator of this event and MGCI teacher, stressed the importance of these competitions for students. “It is an opportunity for students to challenge themselves, to see their skill level in comparison to others. As well, they often meet people from different professions there who are looking for students with these skills, so this is a great opportunity for students to showcase their talents and abilities,” he said.

Of the sixteen Garneau students who participated, eleven won medals.

Grade 12 Nabeel Ahsen, who won a silver medal for Graphic Design and Studio Production, had to complete a poster layout, web banner, and t-shirt design, all relating to a Travel Agency company, within a time limit of five hours. He finds Skills Canada to be “extremely important to secondary students as it allows them to explore their talents outside of the academics.”

He also said that “most student don’t realize that university will not guarantee you a sustainable job with a steady income. The demand for technical skills is far greater. Auto mechanics, engineers, barbers, horticulture technicians, and electricians are desperately needed currently and in the future.”

Adam Kheireddine, a Grade 12 student who competed in 3D Character Animation, said: “I believe the Skills Canada competition is helpful not only because it gives Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) students a taste of what real graphics animation is, but it also teaches them how to work as a team to score gold.”

While many felt that the students of Garneau performed admirably, the same could not be said of the school’s equipment. “I don’t think we can improve anymore than we already have, but we need better computers for the competitions because almost everyone’s computer crashed,” said Safwan Samsudeen, Grade 12, who also competed in 3D Character Animation.

“I don’t think it’s the students, I think it’s our equipment. I try very hard to update our equipment, but a lot of the stuff that students from other schools are working with is much more powerful, and that’s where we fall down, and it’s our fault,” said Mr. Welch.