CAF at Skills Canada National Competition

Sgt Tim Keith from CFRC assists a student as she experiences the CAF through virtual reality. This was one of many skilled trades and technology activities available at the 2019 Skills Canada National Competition, held May 28 and 29 at the Halifax Exhibition Centre.

CAF/DND trades careers highlighted at Skills Canada competition

By Sgt Dianne Lambert, CFRC (Atlantic),
and Margaret Conway, CFB Halifax Public Affairs

On May 28 and 29, Canadian Forces Recruiting Centre (CFRC) Atlantic, FMF Cape Scott, CFB Halifax and other local Defence organizations participated in the 2019 Skills Canada National Competition (SCNC) held at the Halifax Exhibition Centre.

SCNC, the only national, multi-trade and technology competition for students and apprentices in the country, takes place annually in cities across Canada. Each year, more than 550 competitors from all regions come to SCNC to participate in over 40 skilled trade and technology competitions.

The 2019 competition in Halifax was impressive, to say the least. The students and apprentices competing were the most highly skilled from their respective provinces and territories, having competed in provincial and territorial events to qualify for the national competition. They wowed all in attendance, showing their aptitudes in skilled trades and technologies such as plumbing, electronics, baking and 3D character computer animation.

In addition to the many competitions that are the foundation of the event, the 2019 SCNC also included essential skills talks, essential skills stage presentations, an exhibitor career zone and a Young Women in Construction Conference, to name a few.

There were various Try-a-Trade® and Technology activities set up by private and public companies and government organizations during the competition. These activities provided students and the public with hands-on experience and created awareness of skilled trades careers in the local, regional and national workforce. Thousands of students from across the province arrived in bus loads during the two-day competition and filtered through the Try-a-Trade® and Technology area.

Our local Defence Team presented an impressive array of activities that highlighted some of the amazing skilled trades careers, both military and civilian, that support CAF operations at home and abroad. Boatswains offered lessons on rigging, allowing guests to try a knot; FDU (A)’s display saw eager students pick up an item on the floor using the Explosive Ordnance Disposal robot; 77 Line Regiment explained how to fuse fibre optic cable using a fusion splicer; civilian members from FMF Cape Scott made personalized key chains with the Engravograph engraving machine; and Real Property Operations Section (Halifax) set up a scaffolding area so those in attendance could climb to oversee the entire show. These were only some of the activities available from our local Defence Team members.

Recruiting staff from CFRC Atlantic eagerly greeted visitors to answer questions and offer opportunities to experience the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) though virtual reality.

“The CAF is working hard to be seen as an employer of choice for all Canadians. Promoting the CAF and DND at events like the Skills Canada National Competition allows us to showcase the numerous opportunities for trades within our organization,” explains LCol James Falldien, Commanding Officer CFRC (Atlantic).

Students and members of the public also learned about some of the civilian skilled trades careers available with DND. In Halifax, for example, FMF Cape Scott employs a predominantly civilian workforce of more than 1200 people who provide engineering and maintenance services to the Royal Canadian Navy’s East Coast Fleet. There are 16 trades occupations at Cape Scott, 12 of which are recognized by the Provincial Apprenticeship Program.

“Our highly skilled civilian tradespeople in FMF Cape Scott are extremely valued within the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Armed Forces,” explains Capt(N) David Benoit, FMF Cape Scott’s Commanding Officer.

“Not only are they our largest group of employees who help deliver operational combat capability at sea, they are also the heart and continuity in the organization as our technical sailors get posted in and out every few years.”

Capt(N) Benoit sits on the Skills Canada Nova Scotia volunteer board of directors outside of his day job, so he was thrilled to participate as a panelist during an SCNC 2019 Essential Skills Talk that focused on essential skills and recruitment.

Other members of the local Defence Team participated in the competition as well. Formation Chief Petty Officer CPO1 Derek Kitching and CPO1 Doug Currie were judges during the Millwright competition, members of the Naval Reserve showcased Reserve employment opportunities in the skilled trades through their interactive recruiting bus display, CFB Halifax’s transportation unit provided support to the event and 12 Wing Pipes and Drums performed at the opening ceremonies.

Many thanks to all local Defence organizations and individuals who contributed to the success of our SCNC 2019 involvement, Bravo Zulu to all SCNC 2019 competitors on a job well done and congratulations to the organizers, volunteers and all others involved in this incredible event!