Celebrating Success Stories: Testimonials from Skills Canada BC Participants

These stories shine a light on the transformative power of skills development and vocational training. Delve into the journeys, triumphs, and insights shared by individuals whose lives have been enriched through their experiences with Skills Canada BC.

When people ask me what I do for work, it’s a toss up between telling them that I’m a Red Seal baker or that I work for Skills Canada BC, because in my opinion these may be two different jobs, but they go hand in hand. In 2017 I competed in the Skills Canada BC Provincial Baking competition and with a lot of hard work, I earned a gold medal and moved on to compete at Nationals. It was truly one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It solidified my passion for baking, I learned so much about myself, built so much character and made great connections in industry. From that point on I have been lucky enough to volunteer with Skills Canada BC, which lead to my career with them as their Social Media and Program Coordinator. During the past few years with Skills Canada BC they have supported me in my career and I have been able to earn my Red Seal, while also supporting youth in the trades and encouraging them to compete, work hard and achieve their goals. As of recently, I have even been able to start renting my own commercial kitchen as a start to my own bakery! This has always been my dream and thanks to a connection that was made with the Best Western Abbotsford through Skills Canada BC, my dream is that much more in reach, with a new potential client in hand! When I say that the opportunities Skills provides is endless, I really mean it! This isn’t just because I work for them and it isn’t just because I competed in Skills, it’s because I am a living, breathing example of the opportunities that can come from such an amazing opportunity. It’s crazy to think that this is only the beginning of just one persons story with Skills Canada BC and to know that there are many more amazing stories like mine out there!

Anytime on a resume, Skills as a whole and having won Nationals, has given me a great amount of recognition, opportunities and has really shown my passion for plumbing and pipework in general. I don’t regret any of it looking back, regardless of how stressful it was in the moment. If I was to give anyone advise I would say to have fun, if you don’t win that year, you can always go back, but it will always help you with working under pressure, networking and getting recognized for your talent.

Hugo is also working  on a project for TRU during this time, where he is working on a boiler and piping. While he is working on the project, Hugo is also assisting with coaching their current plumbing competitor.

I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity Skills Canada BC provided me. Winning a Bronze medal at the Skills Canada National Competition in 2022 while representing Skills Canada BC was a testament to the valuable skills and knowledge I gained through Okanagan College’s NTEN program. Skills Canada BC not only helped me hone my talents, but also opened doors to new experiences and connections within the industry. I highly recommend Skills Canada BC to anyone looking to develop their skills and pursue a rewarding career.

Wade has now been hired with Okanagan College as an instructor.

I believe that the true journey of the skills competition lies within each of its competitors, so here’s mine. 

I was born and raised in the lower east side of Vancouver, BC, the youngest of 6 children with a single mother on low income. From a young age, I was told that hard work and determination was the way you achieved what you wanted and it was through the struggles that you earned those achievements. Growing up in low income, had a lot of hardships, but those hardships are the biggest lessons I’ve learned, it doesn’t matter what you have, its about what you can create. My mom did the best she could raising 6 kids on her own, I saw her struggle and I remember wanting to do anything to help her relax just a little bit. Her favourite thing of course was pedicures, she loved that I got the polish all over feet, but most of all she loved the foot massage. This is when I realized I loved giving others little pockets of peace. 

At the age of 16 I decided to move out of my mom’s home and  in with my biggest role model, my older sister. She always worked the hardest I’ve seen anyone work, she’s the one that pushed me to keep going and encouraged that nothing was too tall to reach, or too hard to achieve. She gave me my pockets of peace. With the odds against me, I graduated high school on time and with a bursary for post-secondary education. I couldn’t comprehend that a kid with every reason not to succeed, did just that. 

My journey into skills began when I was 22, in the middle of my cosmetology diploma program VCC . I was told by a teacher from my esthetics program that I had an opportunity to display my talents in a Canadian Skills Competition. I jumped at the opportunity and thought, eh what’s the worst that could happen. Through my training in VCC and my knowledge in the industry I felt it would be the perfect opportunity to push myself into the uncertain.

Weeks of training with the guidance from my coach, Audrey, I was able to make it to where I felt confident and secure with my abilities and decision making. It was hard to balance the time between working, school and training, but I persevered. Sure enough, the training paid off and I placed gold and was headed for Nationals. 

The competition was like an experience I’ve never had before, the rush on the competition floor was unmatched. After the 2 days of the competition, the anxieties and rush not yet left because you haven’t heard the results. Of course, my category is the last to be called, third place called, second place called, first place called and it was me! I was the first to ever bring home gold for esthetics in BC and to have that happen while we were the hosting city was amazing.  I couldn’t believe it, the feeling I felt in that moment was a moment ill remember forever.

Through my experiences with Skills, I have now become an Instructional Assistant in the Hair Design and Skin & Body Therapy department at Vancouver Community College and been appointed as the Skills trainer in Esthetics. I’m happy to be in an everchanging industry of trades and technologies, I’m excited for the next chapters of my journey that haven’t been created yet. If I hadn’t taken the jump into the uncertain, I would’ve never experienced skills, met so many amazing people and been appointed administrator of the NAC. Lesson learned, take the risks and be open to the uncertain.  

My point in all of this is that you create your own story, who knows you may end up being nationally recognized for your talents or you may just find that you’re still the same kid that loves giving others pockets of peace.

I am a Red Seal Automotive Service Technician and instructor at BCIT, I have been a competitor for a secondary school Skills competition and a post-secondary Skills competition. 

Skills BC has helped me in many ways, I won my secondary school competition which helped cement that I was on a solid career path right out of secondary school. 

Skills BC also helped me get a job, as a level 1 apprentice looking for a shop to hire me, I was able to list that I had won a Skills competition which helped me get hired almost immediately, the shop owner noted that he liked seeing the Skills BC reference on my resume.

Fast forward a few years and I am now a student in the BCIT AST apprenticeship program and am asked to compete in the BCIT regional Skills competition. I compete, win the regionals, and move on to Provincials. 

Along the way, I had amazing support from several BCIT instructors such as Jordan Woodley, Dan Draper, Mike Howells, Russ Hunter, Naveen Jit & Mubasher Faruki. I had considered becoming an instructor myself but seeing the support during the Skills competition pushed me to pursue instructing at BCIT. 

Fast forward to fall 2023, I apply to be an instructor at BCIT, get hired and have our Associate Dean Mubasher Faruki tell me that being a Skills competition winner helped get me the job at BCIT. 

Skills BC has landed me 2 jobs, made me a stronger apprentice, and introduced me to an incredible line up of supportive instructors who I now have the pleasure to call my co-workers.

I really enjoy being an instructor, working with apprentices and want to stay involved with Skills BC / Skills Canada as much as I can, this is easily the most rewarding job I have ever had, and I plan to stay as long as possible. 

Competing in the Skills BC Hairdressing competitions in 2023 truly helped make me the hairstylist I am today. All the extra training and commitment outside of my university curriculum, enhanced my skills greatly, but also my confidence as a fresh, beginning stylist. Not even 9 months into my hairdressing Journey I was in Winnipeg, Manitoba, at the Skills Competence Canada Nationals competition representing British Columbia for Hairdressing. Most of all while competing, I learned time management. While in competition, the clock is running, and you have to work within it. Sometimes things don’t go according to plan and that’s already you just have to get creative. Which still applies every day I’m in the salon! I think it’s important to remember that the Skills Trades Competitions are meant to be fun, and there is not a single negative to competing. You get to improve your skills and become creative. As well as meet other young stylists and tradespeople around you with a similar ‘strive for more’ attitude. By gaining so much extra experience working with hair prior to my hairdressing school graduation; it helped build my skill foundations, and set me up to be more successful once released into the industry after graduation.

I have been in the Plumbing Industry since the early 2000’s. Early in my apprenticeship, I was asked to compete in a skills competition in Vancouver. This was where I found pride in my work. Looking at something you had created and feeling great about it. I continued this throughout my career. The accomplishing feeling you get stepping back and looking at what you have accomplished was a high for me. I have my instructors at BCIT and the Skilled Trades of BC to thank for this.

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