Skills competition hopes to fill Richmond’s labour shortage

With companies struggling to find employees in Richmond, a competition held in the city is encouraging young workers to obtain practical skills many industries desire.

The Skills Canada BC regional competition, held at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) Richmond last week, allowed hundreds of Grade 4 to 12 students to showcase their talents in skills, trade and technologies.

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“There is a labour shortage and there’re going to be a labour shortage in skills trades and technologies, so they are very good (career) choices for youths,” said James Maxwell, manager of competitions for Skills Competences Canada BC.

“They should have a little bit of trial in those areas. We want to introduce them to a few samplers and experiences.”

A wide spectrum of competitions are taking place province wide. They include architecture, graphic design, cabin making, plumbing, aircraft mechanics and baking.

At the Richmond location, there were six competitions: gravity car, spaghetti bridge, wind turbine, graphic design, public speaking and photography.

“They are tasked on how to build a bridge with spaghetti and hot glue, that can carry a one-kilogram mass for one minute, or to build a car that’s a maximum of 600 grams and can run down the track the fastest,” said Douglas Park, competition coordinator and vice principal of Garden City elementary.

“It gives kids the opportunity to be outside of the classroom to practice their knowledge, their research into design and problem solving, and it is a very good opportunity for children to look at future careers.”

Nia, a Grade 4 student from Garden City elementary, was a competitor in the gravity car competition. She told the Richmond News she joined the competition out of her passion for engineering.

“I like (engineering) more now…(the competition) is fun, and there’s free pizza,” said Nia.

One of the main missions of Skills Canada BC, according to Maxwell, is to provide as many opportunities as possible for kids to gain some experience in different careers.

“What happens in skills, trade and technology is that people who are very successful, they might rise, they may become entrepreneurs, there are lots of possibilities for being successful in any area.”

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