The 27 winners of the Manitoba Skills Competition, which took place in April, are flying out to Vancouver, B.C today to compete in the 27th Skills Canada National Competition (SCNC). 

This is the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic hit that the SCNC takes place in person. In 2020 and 2021, the Skills/Compétences Canada (SCC) held the national competition online.

SCC CEO, Shaun Thorson says that hosting the competition online held its advantages.

"You can reach out to people in a lot of different locations, obviously they don't need to make the trip to a particular location to participate, so access to the competitions is somewhat more flexible," says Thorson.

More than 300 competitors from 35 trade and technology competitions in the post-secondary division will attend the event in person in Vancouver. Another 200 competitors and 45 competitions in the secondary division will compete online. 

The SCNC takes place from May 25-28th.

"We want them to learn something about their particular occupational area and their skill area of interest, but we also want to deliver an experience. For many of them, it may be the first time that they're travelling outside of their province or territory or community," says Thorson.

Christian Zacharias, a carpenter and local resident, is excited to represent his province in Vancouver.

"I had talked about it [the provincial competition] to so many people, like friends and family, and I was like, oh yeah if I win this I get to go to Vancouver and compete there like it was no big deal. But it is a big deal," says Zacharias. 

Ryan Ross, originally from God's Lake Narrows but currently living in Winnipeg, cannot wait to show his skills at the SCNC. Ross won the Provincial competition by default and did not get a chance to put his CNC machining skills on display. 

"In my year, I guess you could say there were no other competitors, so I actually won," says Ross. "It's been a little crazy learning that I happen to be the only one who was going to compete, just to find out that they'd be shooting me straight to the national level."

Ross hopes to make something of himself out in Vancouver, as he wants to start his own business in the future.

Dana McCoy, a Winnipeg 3D artist competitor, says that she was confident going into the Provincial competition. 

"It's my dream doing this, like going to Vancouver and competing in Skills Canada. So I'm honestly, super excited. I'm also nervous," says McCoy. 

Zacharias, Ross, and McCoy all said that they have put in extra hours training and preparing for this week to make sure that all of Canada knows that Manitoba is a strong competitor in this year's SCNC.

Thorson spoke on the benefits of organizing such an event.

"That sensory experience is really important. Understanding what that equipment will feel like when you use it, that material, how it's going to react when you use it, the sights, the smells all of that around that particular industry we think are really important. Those are elements that people will remember for a longer period of time. They will make an impression and it gives them a better perspective of what it will be like to work in those particular occupational areas, and then the network that those people develop. Making those connections are really important."