Two local students returned from the recent Skills Canada nationals in Toronto with medals.
Rebecca Blackburn from the Estevan Comprehensive School (ECS) won a silver medal in the secondary hairstyling competition, and Kiana Stepp won bronze in post-secondary hairstyling.
“These individuals had four tests,” said Estevan Comprehensive School (ECS) hairstyling instructor Joyce Mack, who served as the advisor for Blackburn and Stepp. “They had a ladies' day cut style, which was a three-hour and 45-minute exam, and then they had a ladies' hair by night, which is an hour and 30 minutes. So that was Test Day 1.”
“On Test Day 2, they had a new category called men's fashion trend, and that was cut and colour, and that was a two-hour and 30-minute test, and then they had a classic bombage, which was a two-hour men's test.”
The classic bombage is similar to Elvis Presley's hairstyle, Mack said.
“They're very much a time-management test,” Mack said.
Three other ECS students went to nationals. Regan MacMurchy competed in mechanical CAD, while Vincent Dupuis and Kyle Goulet were in television and video production. They finished out of the medals, so their final standing wasn't announced, but Mack said the trio did a great job, and were excellent representatives of their school and their city.
Mack noted the competitions at nationals this year had a greater emphasis on technical prowess. Contestants also had less time to complete their projects.
“All of the test areas … wanted more workmanship with less time,” said Mack. “So the tests were stepped up quite a bit for industry standards.”
This was a qualifying year for the 2015 World Skills competition, and Mack said that might have been a factor in this year's standards.
The skill level was also higher among the entrants this year, she said.
Mack said the ECS students spent a lot of time preparing for nationals ever since they qualified by winning gold medals in their respective events at provincials in April.
This year marked the 20th anniversary for Skills Canada national competition. Saskatchewan has been competing at the event since 1998, and ECS has had students at nationals each of the last 17 years.
“With the board support, and by going to the nationals and watching the level of skill that you have to have, and the time management, and seeing what the workmanship is, those factors have made us, as coaches, prepare even more, so that those students have a better chance at nationals,” Mack said.
As part of the 20th anniversary celebrations, former Skills Canada national champions were brought in to speak to this year's entrants. Estevan's Kaylyn Mack, who won national gold in post-secondary hairstyling in 2010 and competed at the world skills in 2011, was among those who explained what Skills Canada has done for her professionally and personally.
It was also announced at nationals that next year's Skills Canada competition will be held in Saskatoon in late May. Many of Canada's top young people in many trades will be coming to Saskatchewan.