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Skilled Yellowknifers face off
Competition promotes trades in the North

Kevin Allerston
Northern News Services
Published Friday, April 20, 2012

Skills Canada NWT held its 14th annual skills competition in Yellowknife Tuesday, with 44 Yellowknifers competing in trades challenges from plumbing to hairdressing.

Colin Miller of J&R Mechanical was participating in the post-secondary plumbing competition at the Sir John Franklin gym, competing against Jeff Leonardis of JSL Mechanical Installations Ltd.

"It was pretty good, it was definitely a bit of a challenge to manage all the materials appropriately," said Miller.

Miller, who was participating in the competition for the first time, said the day-long competition taught him a lot about time management.

"It helps with my job for sure with time management and trying to figure out what I really can do in a certain amount of time. You know, on the job site it is sometimes a little bit more relaxed, so it was good in that sense," said Miller. "But it's not like I really learned how to do anything new or anything like that, I've done everything that we did yesterday on the job site before."

The challenge was for Miller and Leonardis to put together a line of plumbing with a variety of differently-angled offsets.

"It was fitting pipe together, some things you wouldn't really see on the job - random 45-degree angles, 22.5-degree angles you don't really see too often - but in the end it all had to hold pressure. You had to have proper joints, know how to thread piping, things like that," Miller said.

Miller ended up defeating Leonardis, who did not complete his project, and will be going down to Edmonton on May 12 to participate in the national Skills Canada competition.

He said he wanted to participate last year, but due to a shortage of workers at J&R Mechanical was unable to. He said he did speak with people from the 2011 competition, but still was unsure of how things would go.

"I really had no idea what to expect. I know I walked by last year to see what they were doing and it kind of looked like a sculpture or something, I didn't really take a really good look at it," he said.

Miller said he has some advice for plumbers wanting to participate in the 2013 competition.

"Don't get worried if it seems like you're taking too much time. Just take your time and be patient. I mean, there is a time limit, I guess, but you can't really rush through it or else you are probably going to mess something up and take more time," Miller said.

In total there were 74 participants from across the NWT taking part in 17 competitions. 20 of them are moving on to nationals.

"I think all of our competitors did well, we saw some really strong performances by people from around Yellowknife and the Northwest Territories, so yeah, I was quite pleased," said Jan Fullerton, executive director for Skills Canada NWT.

"Sometimes having a competition as a goal just motivates people to work harder and learn more and that sort of thing," Fullerton said.

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