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VIU students pick up medals at annual skills competition

NANAIMO – Five university students bring home medals from Skills Canada provincial trades competition.

By Janina Stajic

At the recent Skills Canada provincial trades competition, held on April 17 at the Tradex Convention Centre in Abbotsford, five VIU students brought home medals including Hilary Malone who took gold in culinary arts.

She’ll now compete at the Skills Canada National competition at B.C. Place June 5-8.

Instructors in VIU’s hairdressing department were thrilled with the results of the competition, too, as it was the first time in 10 years that they had sent students to provincials and one of them, Rhian Barcinas, took bronze.

“Both hairdressing students did wonderfully well, and to have Rhian take the bronze was so exciting,” said Sally Vinden, chairwoman of the hairdressing department. “It shows that the department has a strong team of supportive instructors. I also have to give kudos to instructor Jessica Nemlander who worked closely with both students, coaching them on the skills they needed to compete.”

Barcinas said he thought the competition was an incredible experience.

“It was a nerve-wracking day as it was really tough competition. I also felt pressured because I was representing VIU,” said Barcinas. “But it was a great opportunity to really put my skills to work and to see what other students were doing. When I found out I had won the bronze I was so excited as I really didn’t expect that to happen.”

Barcinas completed his program and is now putting those award-winning skills to work at Nanaimo’s Cutting Room Creative.

Kellie Spence, heavy equipment operator program assistant, played an integral role in organizing VIU students to compete and was happy with the results.

She was also pleased with how well the event highlighted the growing demand for trades training and the numerous career opportunities available in a variety of fields.

“During the competition there was a trade show component where institutions set up booths so students could learn about the different options for trades careers,” said Spence. “VIU’s display was really popular with lots of people and potential students really interested in what we’re doing.”

Spence is now looking forward to preparing for the Skills Canada National competition. She hopes students, parents and teachers will all come out to cheer competing students and also to learn more about the vast number of skilled trades career opportunities.

“It’s becoming common knowledge that there is going to be a shortage of skilled trades workers, which really means there are going to be numerous opportunities for students who are going into trades training,” said Spence. “There won’t be a better place to learn about those opportunities than at the national competition.”

Glynis Steen, VIU’s associate dean of applied trades and technology agrees.

“The event will give them an idea of the wonderful career opportunities available in the trades – exciting, creative, demanding and well-paying positions.”

The Skills Canada National Competition is free for the public and subsidies are available for school groups which want to attend. For more information, please contact Skills Canada at 1-343-883-7545.

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