Kwantlenâ€™s Cloverdale campus is set to host the regional Skills Canada competition on March 7, where over 200 students will compete from the Richmond, Langley, Surrey and Delta school districts.
The competition allows high school students to explore interests in trades and technology fields in over 15 categories. Some categories that will be featured are carpentry, fashion design and robotics.
Students will be given details of the task in their event when they arrive at he Cloverdale campus March 7. For example, students participating in the fashion design category know ahead of time that they have to make a skirt in six hours, but they get the specific directions on the day, explained Nancy Toth, consultant for career programs for the Richmond school district, who is organizing the event.
â€œHalf of the students donâ€™t usually finish,â€ she added, illustrating the difficulty of the challenges. â€œItâ€™s usually very intense.â€
Some of the competitors attend Kwantlen, through a program that allows high school students to take classes at Kwantlen and receive credit from Kwantlen and credit from their high school, she said.
As a result of that program, there are many high school students on-campus at Kwantlen, taking part in programs such as automotive, carpentry and welding, she added.
This is the first time Kwantlen has offered to host the event, and Toth thinks itâ€™s a good fit.
â€œI think it really highlights the profile of Kwantlen. It will bring a lot of families and students to the campus who have never been there before, and itâ€™s a beautiful campus. To highlight these programs, many of which are taught at this campus, is good promotion.â€
The day begins at 9 a.m. and competition deadline is at 4 p.m., followed by a medal presentation ceremony at 5 p.m.
Those who win gold medals will qualify to compete at the provincial level in the 15th Annual BC Skills Competition, which will take place on April 22 at the Tradex, Trade and Exhibition Centre in Abbotsford.
With the stock markets plummeting and job markets in disarray, Kwantlenâ€™s trades and technology programs are marching to the same beat they always have.
â€œWeâ€™re doing what weâ€™ve always done,â€ said Dana Goedbloed, dean of the trades and technology. â€œWeâ€™re stressing employability skills.â€
Those skills, such as resumÃ© writing, customer service and communication, are a vital part of every trade and technology department. The Cloverdale campus is home to 16 different programs, including appliance repair, plumbing and carpentry.
Gerard Valerty, an instructor with the 36-week farrier program, which teaches horse hoof care, including horseshoeing, said that although being skilled at your trade is a must, it isnâ€™t what gets students jobs.
â€œWhen you rank skills that they need, customer service is way up here,â€ Valerty said, drawing an imaginary line at his shoulders, â€œand technical skills are way down here,â€ he said, pointing down to his knees.
The ferrier program runs a not-for-profit business, and Valerty expects his students to act professionally at all times. â€œSometimes, I even leave the building and call here, just to make sure theyâ€™re answering the phone the right way,â€ he said.
Loc Hepburn a welding instructor, is teaching students training for one of the sectors that has seen a big downturn in employment opportunities. â€œUp until recently, quite a few of my students got jobs. But now, everythingâ€™s slowing down and it keeps getting slower and slower,â€ Hepburn said.
â€œI always make sure they have resumÃ©s and I go through them. I give them advice all through the course, and at the end we really ramp it up and make sure they have all those extra skills,â€ he added.
Although each program dedicates a portion of its time to helping students create resumÃ©s, practice their interviewing and communication skills, career counsellor Rick Hives is on-site to offer one-on-one support.