Since 1998, over 70% of Skills Ontario electrical competition winners in the apprentice division have been IBEW apprentices.
Think of the Skills competition as the Olympics for trades.
High schools students and apprentices each have a division, and all the certified skilled trades are represented. Since 1998, over 70% of Skills Ontario electrical competition winners in the apprentice division have been IBEW apprentices.
Skills is also a major trades showcase for elementary and secondary school students. Every year, tens of thousands of them gather at Skills Ontario alone to learn what the trades are about. It’s all designed to show young people that the trades can be excellent career options. You can get a picture of what attending Skills is like here.
Andre Viau, an IBEW Local 1687 apprentice (now with Local 1149), won a Gold medal at Skills Ontario in May 2017. He won Gold again at Skills Canada in June 2017. The Silver medallist at Skills Ontario, Andrew Padre-Cura, was from IBEW Local 804.
When asked how he felt about winning the Gold, Andre said, “I was really proud to win. Especially since this is my third competition. I’m glad I made it!”
He commented on the training and support he received not only as an apprentice but as a Skills competitor.
“The training I had was very good. There were a wide variety of people doing different jobs, and there was always someone around who knows how to teach. There was also good mentoring, and I always had someone on the job who could answer questions,” he said.
“The standards were very high,” Andre continues, “Every day we talked about different topics, especially safety.”
“My whole family are all union carpenters,” says Andre. “I am used to seeing that they get better pay and benefits.”
But it’s also clear that Andre is passionate about the work he is doing.
“We work in all parts of the electrical industry, from commercial to industrial. I love trying new things and especially troubleshooting. I like being the one they send in when something needs to be fixed.”
Andre is thankful for the great start he got in his career with the IBEW. “I would like to thank all the people who taught me so much, and everyone who nominated me for Skills. They trusted me to be good enough to win – they could have chosen any apprentice, but they chose me.”
Andre plans to write the exam for his journeyperson’s red seal soon, and eventually to go on and get his Master’s certification.
He is excited to learn more about automation and control, especially programmable logic controllers (PLC), which are rugged computer systems used in manufacturing.