|Skills Canada competition about more than winning medals|
|News - Training|
|Monday, 27 June 2011 15:21|
By Michael Raine
Quebec City, Quebec -- June 27, 2011 --The annual Skills Canada competition was held in Quebec City in early-June and as Derrick Ryan, owner Garland Auto Body in St. John’s Newfoundland, says, it’s a great way to support the great young talent that exist in Canada in the trades.
This year one of Ryan’s young employees, Bernie Fitzgerald, 24, won the bronze medal in the “Auto Body Repair – Post-Secondary” category. This was Fitzgerald’s second appearance but first medal at the national competition. What makes the medal even more impressive is that it was the first time a Newfoundlander won a medal in the Auto Body category in the competition’s 17-year history. The competition was so close that only three points separated gold from bronze.
The gold medal winner was Markus Messerschmidt from Manitoba and Dustin Goddard from New Brunswick won the silver.
As Ryan explains, it was the College of the North Atlantic – where Fitzgerald did his collision repair training – who originally asked the young repairer to attend after he won the gold medal at provincials. Originally, Fitzgerald didn’t want go because he had just returned from vacation and didn’t want to take more time off work but Ryan insisted that he take part.
“I think if we support them and get them to pursue the trade, it’s going to be better for us all,” says Ryan. In fact, Ryan is so supportive that he and his wife made the trip to Quebec City with Fitzgerald to cheer him on.
Supporting young people in the collision repair industry is something Ryan believes in deeply. “I go to all these conferences and you hear the same old thing, you can’t get young people into the industry. Well if you don’t support the young people or motivate them to stay in [collision repair], what are they going to stay in it for?”
That support from Ryan has certainly paid off for Fitzgerald but he says the real thrill is not winning a medal but meeting all the other competitors. “I like to do the competition but it’s mainly for the people you get to meet. You get the people who are in your trade who you never get to meet, people who have been around the block more times than I have,” he says.
With over 500 competitors in more than 40 categories, Fitzgerald says that it’s a thrill to meet people in the other trades and learn more about what they do.
He points out, however, that the competition itself can be nerve-racking. “The pressure is the hardest part and then anticipation of waiting to do it,” says Fitzgerald. “The day beforehand you know you’re going to have to compete tomorrow and it’s hard to sleep and you’re just thinking about how you’re going to go about your project.”
Fitzgerald credits that excellent support he receives at Garland for his good performance saying Ryan and his co-workers would help him train, give him tips, and answer any questions. “I think if it wasn’t for support at the garage here and the people in it, I wouldn’t have got a medal.”