PCL Supports Skills Canada

PCLer Chris Erbus shares his Skills Canada story​ 

The Winnipeg-based superintendent began his carpentry career with PCL in 2010, working his way up through his apprenticeship and certifications in the Special Projects division. Today Chris can be found working on True North Square, an iconic mixed-use development that will be built in the heart of downtown Winnipeg.

Chris (third left) and the other judges of the Skills
Canada Manitoba Competition.

Chris judging at Skills Canada Manitoba 2015.

Back in college, when Chris was approached by his carpentry instructor to compete in Skills Canada Manitoba, he entered because it sounded like a fun opportunity to shine. Despite not yet having real-world carpentry experience, Chris took home fourth place and discovered the appeal of Skills Canada, the only national multitrade and technology competition for students and apprentices. Every year, more than 500 high school and college students from across Canada participate in over 40 skilled trade and technology competitions.

The next time he had the opportunity to compete, he jumped at the chance. “I knew it was a special opportunity that was not offered to everyone.” Chris won first place at Skills Canada Manitoba in 2012, qualifying him for the Skills Canada National Competition (which he gladly missed for the birth of his first child).

After completing his apprenticeship, Chris was asked by his college to volunteer as a judge at the upcoming Skills Canada Manitoba competition. “Since then I have been involved in judging the Provincials every year, have spoken at events, and have helped judge the Skills Canada National Competition in Winnipeg last year.”

SKILLED STUDENT

Competing in Skills gave Chris the opportunity to apply his knowledge outside of the work environment. “The test of your abilities under pressure to turn raw material into a finished product in a short amount of time is an exciting experience.”

Judging the competition brought even more benefits. “I enjoy watching the students and how each of them approaches the challenge in a different way,” said Chris. “Since the students are some of the best and brightest, and come from many different backgrounds of carpentry, I find that I always learn something new from them.”

Chris recommends Skills Canada to anyone who can get involved. “It is fun and has led to many great things for me both personally and professionally.”

SUPPORTING THE FUTURE OF THE INDUSTRY

As an official sponsor of Skills Canada, PCL’s presence at the event encourages youth to discover rewarding careers in the trades and technology industries.

Chris sees PCL’s involvement at Skills Canada as a demonstration of support for education and trade excellence. In return, PCL gets visibility to the top apprentices and high potential individuals who will soon enter the workforce. This is important for PCL, as “skilled workers are key to our success.”

So how can we find these skilled workers? “Mentorship and support,” says Chris. “My advice is to take the time to build people up and show them you have an interest in their development. It can be very motivational for young people if they see that you notice their achievements and that you support their growth.”

Chris believes that all PCLers should take an interest in reaching out to the future of the industry through events like Skills Canada. “We are owners, and recruiting the best is a big part of the job.”

The 24th Skills Canada National Competition (June 4–5) will be held at the Edmonton Expo Centre.