Yukon competition highlights skills training, which could be pivotal in mining resurgence

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Yukon competition highlights skills training, which could be pivotal in mining resurgence

Yukoners skilled in trades like welding will be in high demand if several proposed mines in the territory are developed, according to Trent Konrad with the Canadian Welding Assocation Foundation.

Konrad attended the annual Territorial Skills Competition in Whitehorse Thursday.

Victoria Gold has installed a 210 bed camp at its site in central Yukon as it prepares to begin mine construction.

Goldcorp is committed to begin construction of its mine south of Dawson City once permits are in place. And speculation about more new mines has been spurred by major companies Barrick Gold, Newmont, and Agnico Eagle investing in Yukon projects.

Konrad said any resurgence in a resource industry creates more trades jobs.

"We want to make sure when the jobs are open and the jobs are created that local people can be educated and get involved with it," he said.

"Everything from the new construction of the mine to a lot of the maintenance going on."

More than 40 students and apprentices were competing in almost 20 fields including carpentry, baking, electrical, hairstyling, and aesthetics.

Dawson City grade 11 student Tanner Sadlier was in the cabinet making competition.

This was her second year at the event. Last year, she did well enough to qualify for the national championships.

"Creates a challenge and it does help you to see what the rest of the country is doing, just to make sure that I'm up to par," said Sadlier.

The Yukon education department has committed to including more experiential and hands-on training as part of a shift in the territory's school curriculum — a perfect complement to the competition, according to the executive director of Skills Canada Yukon, Tracy Erman.

"It's what we do, so we support the competitors, but we're also in the schools with workshops doing experiential learning for the kids," she said.

"There's so many stories about using trades and technology to teach things, like physics or math or English even, document reading. Why not?"