January 2017 Newsletter




Dear Friends of Skills Ontario,

I hope the New Year finds you well! I am so excited for what this new year will bring for Skills Ontario, our supporters, and of course, the youth of our province.

In 2017, the Skills Ontario Competition is moving to a larger venue in the GTA, coinciding with the celebrations for Canada’s 150th anniversary and 50th anniversary of the Ontario college system. The Skills Ontario In-School Presentation program will reach over 125,000 students.  Over 18,000 young women and First Nations, Métis, and Inuit (FNMI) youth will participate in Skills Ontario development programs.  With further support, Skills Ontario can help Ontario’s youth reach their full potential through experiential learning, mentorship, and competition opportunities.  

Over the next two weeks, over 1,000 Elementary students will participate in Skills Ontario Cardboard Boat Races across the province, some at brand new locations. Our team is thrilled to see many new faces getting involved in this program.  

I am also thrilled to announce increased support from new and returning sponsors. Magna International, the Ontario College of Trades, the Ontario Government, and the Government of Canada have all pledged their support as Premium Sponsors of Skills Ontario.  

I invite you to read on, discover how Skills Ontario is building Ontario’s skilled trades and technologies workforce, and how you too can make a positive difference for Ontario’s youth this year. We hope to hear from you soon.




January 18: Registration opens online for Skills Ontario Summer Camps
January 24: Elementary Cardboard Boat Races – Brantford, Markham
January 25: Elementary Cardboard Boat Races – Ottawa
January 26: Elementary Cardboard Boat Races – Ottawa, Espanola
January 31: Elementary Cardboard Boat Races – Toronto
February 1: Elementary Cardboard Boat Races – Belleville
February 3: Elementary Cardboard Boat Races – Guelph
February 8: Elementary Cardboard Boat Races – Wingham
February 15: FNMI-focused Mentoring Event – Sudbury
February 21: FNMI-focused Mentoring Event – Sault Ste. Marie
February 23: FNMI Trades and Tech Day – Sault Ste. Marie
March 1 & 2: Cardboard Boat Race Championships – Waterloo
March 31: Skills Ontario Career Exploration Event – North Bay



Registration is now OPEN for all 2017 Skills Ontario Summer Camps!

Skills Ontario is pleased to announce over 20 confirmed locations across the province, including all-boys’, all-girls’, and co-ed camps. In accordance with various special initiatives, Skills Ontario is also excited to announce camp partnerships with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit (FNMI) communities in Manitoulin Island and Thunder Bay, as well as a Francophone camp in Sudbury. 

Skills Ontario Summer Camps are week-long day programs for students entering grades 7-9. Campers work to develop problem-solving and teamwork skills through hands-on activities relevant to skilled trades and technologies. Campers have a chance to participate in industry-led workshops in industrial, construction, motive power, services, and technology sectors. 

All Skills Ontario Summer Camps are facilitated in partnership with colleges, industries, and community volunteers who work to ensure campers receive outstanding hands-on experience. 

For more information, a list of locations, and securing a spot, register online today!



Skills Ontario received over 250 entries for its Pin and Medal Design contest, making 2016-2017 the largest pool of submissions for the selection committee! 

Skills Ontario Competitions Coordinator Natasha Oliver said the number of this year’s submissions posed a challenge for short-listing candidates. This year we saw more high school submissions for both the Pin & Medal design than ever before! The range in concepts were outstanding – many involving gears, tools and electrical circuits and the always popular trillium flower for Ontario,” she said. Designs that included a strong concept with simple and well placed text really stood out.  

Submissions poured in from across the province, and included work from both secondary and post-secondary students. Oliver said this would not have been possible without the ongoing support of educators. Big thanks to all teachers who brought this contest to their classroom and encouraged participation!” Oliver said. 

This year’s pin and medal design winners will be announced on February 15. Good luck to all contestants!




Bill Speed has been an active volunteer with Skills Ontario for 25 years.

"I keep coming back because I see the need in the industry and it is great seeing competitors excel when they are put out of their comfort zone," he said. "The skills we test are, in some cases, skills they have yet to learn or master."

Since 1992, Bill has chaired the Toronto District School Board Auto Collision and Car Painting Skills Competitions – and he strives to keep the competitions relevant to the needs of the industry year after year. Bill said the quality of the competition greatly improved under the mutual efforts of him and the former Ontario Chair for Skills Canada, the late Ron Postma, when the two took over running the Auto Collision and Car Painting competitions in 1994.

“We never looked back,” Bill said. “To us, it was all about giving our students the best chance of success in their future. We both had strong ties to industry and we knew that there was a need for skilled technicians.”

For Bill, it’s also been important to keep the competition fair, and difficult enough to challenge skills of the students participating.

But the best part of being involved with Skills Ontario? Bill said it’s seeing the faces of the competitors when they accept their medals on stage. "For many of the competitors, it is the first time they have been the best at something. Many have completed tasks that they have never done in school and they have done it to a high enough level to go on and represent the Province at the next level," he said.

For years, Bill has worked to bring industry judges to competitions, and he said it's enjoyable hearing judges comment positively on the quality of competitors' work. As for why he continues to actively work to help students through skills competitions, Bill said it's important to recognize the value of the competitions and the job prospects they can mean for competitors going forward.

"I had a young lady compete in car painting a couple of years ago and between Provincials and Nationals, she was handed 12 business cards and offers of work when she graduated," he said. "That is reason enough to keep on coming back."

Bill’s commitment to Skills Ontario serves as an inspiration for all volunteers and staff working year-round to promote skilled trades and technologies opportunities for students. Bill’s words and actions have gone a long way toward shaping the Skills Ontario Auto Collision and Car Painting contests.

Bill, you have been a tremendous part of this organization, and your work hasn’t gone unnoticed. From all of us at Skills Ontario, THANK YOU for all that you do.

Read about the success of Bill's students.



Skills Ontario is actively seeking volunteers for ongoing programs throughout the school year, and the 2017 Skills Ontario Competition at the Toronto Congress Centre! 

Current opportunities include:

  • Elementary Career Awareness Workshop Leaders
    Plan and facilitate a skilled trades or technology related workshop to be delivered to groups of grade 7 and 8 students
  • Young Women’s Conferences Mentors
    Prepare an interactive display using props and pictures of your choice to explain your career to students during the tradeshow portion of the Skills Ontario Competition. Details here.
  • Young Women's Conferences Assistant
    Assist with set-up, teardown and facilitation of an event that promotes careers in trades/technologies to young women. A good opportunity for students interested in special events planning.
  • Facility Marshals
    Act as the liaison between technical committees and Skills Ontario staff for an assigned area at the Skills Ontario Competition. Details here.
  • Technical Committee Chairs
    As a skilled trade / technology professional, lead the organization of, and procurement of materials for, a contest at the Skills Ontario Competition. Current openings include the 2017 Prepared Speech competition, and the 2017 Lego Challenge.
  • Carboard Boat Race Judges
    Judge student-designed and tested cardboard boats during elementary and secondary races based on assigned criteria. Individuals or small groups welcome. No experience necessary. Details here.

To apply for a volunteer position, please complete the Volunteer Application and e-mail to info@skillsontario.com or to Solange Saraiva at ssaraiva@skillsontario.com 

Please visit Skills Ontario's Volunteer Opportunities for more details and information. 



Skills Ontario is still accepting submissions for several award opportunities, recognizing educators, volunteers, and mentors! 

Dick Hopkins Award: for a recognized teacher who has made a significant impact in promoting and encouraging skilled trades and technologies careers. Nomination forms are due March 31, 2017. 

*NEW* Skills Ontario Alumni Award: for a recognized individual who is dedicated to upholding their knowledge and experience with the Skills Ontario Competition as a past competitor, who placed in a National or World Skills Competition. Nominations must be submitted to gloro@skillsontario.comNomination forms are due March 17, 2017.  

Please Skills Ontario's Award and Scholarships for more information.



Skills Ontario is thrilled to welcome back Magna International as a Premium Sponsor for both the Skills Ontario Young Women’s Initiatives, and the 2017 Skills Ontario Competition! 

Magna is a leading global automotive supplier who continues to push the boundaries of technology and innovation to transform vehicles, careers and the future of mobility.  As a global company, Magna has more than 155,000 employees and global footprint of 312 manufacturing facilities who are committed to making great things possible. Magna is the only supplier in the world with the ability to contribute to every part of the vehicle design, engineering and production – from electronics to complete vehicle assembly. 

In the coming years, the company aims to continue to outpace the industry and actively grow in terms of sales, footprint and employee base. This means incredible automotive apprenticeship opportunities for those wanting to develop and hone their skills, while also taking advantage of a chance to live and work abroad.  

Since 1976, the company has been committed to supporting socially beneficial projects through its Corporate Constitution. Magna’s “Social Responsibility” principle is simple but effective – two per cent of all pre-tax profits are used to support charitable and non-profit organizations, including Skills Ontario! 

Global reach, a bounty of opportunities, and a commitment to social responsibility – it’s no wonder Magna takes pride in the ability to deliver innovative products and provide World Class Manufacturing on a global scale. 

To discover more about Magna International and its worldwide career and apprenticeship opportunities, please visit www.magna.com/careers.