Calgarian Wins Gold in National Skills Competition and Encourages Others to Consider a Career in the Trades
Antonio Duarte has a knack for taking things apart and putting them back together.
The Grade 10 student from Bishop O’Byrne High School in Calgary recently won a gold medal in the Skills Canada National Automotive Technology Competition.
“I just like building and taking things apart – it’s like an escape for me,” Duarte said.
Among other things, he had to disassemble and reassemble the shock absorbers, brakes and steering components as well as perform an electrical diagnosis.
“It was a bit stressful,” said the 15-year-old footballer. “I thought there were a few things I was going to do wrong — like, I still can’t stand transmissions.”
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His mechanics teacher said Duarte was an excellent student with a gift for mechanical reasoning.
“It was just a matter of fine-tuning it to be competition-ready,” said Chis Yeo, a mechanics teacher at Bishop O’Byrne High School.
Duarte also earned first place in a provincial competition before heading to national competition.
“It was a big surprise when he won the gold medal,” Yeo said. “(It’s) probably (a) unique moment in a career to have a student place on the national scene.
“It’s important that children go into skilled trades. Cars cannot be repaired. Elevators cannot be repaired. We’re going to need the next generation of kids to make these things work.
A SAIT official said there has been a 40 per cent increase in the number of new apprentices registered in the trades in Alberta compared to the same period last year, with welding appearing to be leading the way.
Jim Szautner, vice president of studies for SAIT, said there is a strong demand for people who can repair recreational vehicles and have a variety of construction skills.
“We’ve also found that our carpenters are doing quite well in terms of demand, and also when we look at the pipe trades, which is a combination of plumbers, steam fitters and pipe fitters,” Szautner said.
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Trades and related occupations are expected to face labor shortages over the next 10 years based on Alberta’s occupational supply and demand outlook.
According to figures from the province, this year the shortages are estimated at around 8,000 and are expected to increase to more than 18,000 jobs in 2025.
“The Government of Alberta is committed to listening to the needs of Alberta employers and addressing challenges, including labor shortages in the trades, as our economy rebounds,” said Roy Dallmann, Alberta Minister of Labor and Immigration Press.
In a statement, Dallmann said the Alberta at Work initiative will help workers develop new skills and attract entrepreneurs and students from around the world.
Alberta Jobs Now’s investments in job creation and training will provide employees with in-demand skills, according to Dallmann. The program began accepting applications on June 3, 2022. It will help employers hire skilled tradespeople among other occupations.
As for Duarte, he said his dream job was to become an elevator technician.
“They’re pretty interesting to me and it took a long time to get to where they are now,” he said. “It would be interesting to work on it.”
Duarte encourages other students to consider careers in the trades.
“I would say go for it because it’s more interesting than sitting in an office and constantly doing paperwork. You just need to be able to work with your hands and take things apart.
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