ST. JOHN’S, NL —
One of College of the North Atlantic’s (CNA) own is continuing to share his expertise with young skilled post-secondary students – once again it’s on the world stage.
Richard Spencer, Computer Support and Networking Specialist program instructor, has been involved with WorldSkills since 2019 and is the organizations Deputy Chief Expert in Cloud Computing for 2022. This week he is headed to Goyang, South Korea for the WorldSkills 2022 competition that will be kicking off on October 12.
Team Canada will be competing against 15 other countries – Vietnam, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Iran, India, Ireland, Hong Kong, France, Egypt, Denmark, China, and Australia over a span of four days.
“I will have a bit more responsibility this time around and have to take care of things like infrastructure requirements, safety, and media relations,” said Spencer, adding he’s happy this trip is finally happening after a few interruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This trip was supposed to happen in 2021, and it was originally supposed to be Shanghai, China. We found out at the time of our national competition in May 2022, that Shanghai had pulled out, due to COVID-19 cases in China and they just couldn't get ready in time,” he explained. “As a result, WorldSkills has spread out the 62 skills competitions across 15 different countries and rebranded as ‘WorldSkills Competition 2022 Special Edition’
Spencer will be travelling with Akshit Vineet, an Internet Communications Technology student at Sheridan College in Ontario. Vineet took home the gold medal at the Skills Canada National Competition in 2022 for Cloud Computing.
“I have been helping to train and mentor him over the summer as he gets ready for the competition,” he said. “A normal WorldSkills cycle would usually mean a competitor has over a year to train but due to the difficulties with COVID-19, we crowned our national champion in May and have to compete globally in October; so, it’s a whirlwind.”
The instructor says his involvement with Skills Canada has been an extremely rewarding experience.
“I'd encourage any educator to get involved provincially at a secondary or post-secondary level, and the same for students. If you ever have a chance to compete provincially, nationally, or internationally; jump at the opportunity. It is an absolute game changer. You will make friendships for life and surround yourself with some very talented people in your field, and open up doors you never thought were there to begin with.”
Competitions like these put a spotlight on skilled trades, which Spencer says are essential to any workforce.
“Skilled trades offer diverse and very rewarding careers but at the same time are often seen as "less valuable" by a lot of Canadians. This could not be further from the truth. As much as we need doctors and teachers, the world needs automobile technicians, welders, steel workers, carpenters, brick layers, airplane mechanics, cooks, and the list goes on and on. This is what the world operates on.”
Spencer hopes that one day skilled trades will be taught in grade school.
“My dream is to see some of these skilled trades being introduced very early in the K-12 school system. We need to foster the students love for skilled trades very early. Plant the seed, let them work with their hands, and give them a path forward to follow their dreams.”
For more information about CNA, visit www.cna.nl.ca
To learn more about Skills Canada Newfoundland and Labrador, visit: www.skillscanadanl.ca
College of the North Atlantic