Two people wearing Humber shirts stand at a table covered in tools and equipment.

The excitement was palpable at the Toronto Congress Centre on the opening day of the 2024 Skills Ontario competition.

Scores of high school students rushed from information booth to information booth of the various organizations, companies and post-secondary institutions had set up to show off what they offer for those looking to explore a career in the skilled trades and technologies.

Humber’s booth proved to be quite popular with exhibits highlighting the innovation of the various programs on display. For example, visitors and participants played a video game designed by Humber’s Game Programming students, explored how virtual reality is being used in Interior Design, built hula hoops using plastic piping and tried the climbing apparatus arborists use to access trees.

Young people stand by the Humber booth and listen as a person wearing a chef outfit speaks to them.

One of the most popular attractions at the Humber booth had participants pot a plant they could take home with them.  

Humber students, faculty and recruitment staff were also at the booth to answer questions and talk about the programs they’re taking or teaching.

Humber announces new scholarship

The annual competition gives elementary, secondary and post-secondary students an opportunity to show off the skills they've learned as they face off against their peers from across the province in complex challenges designed to showcase their expertise in various sectors. Post-secondary students compete in contests including Baking, Cabinetmaking, Horticulture and Landscape, Welding and many others.

Ann Marie Vaughan, president and CEO of Humber, announced during the event’s closing ceremonies that Humber will be supporting the next generation of skilled trades professionals by offering a $1,000 scholarship to all of the Skills Ontario competition secondary school winners if they apply to and attend Humber upon graduation from high school.

A person wearing a Humber shirt works at a bench with tools stored beneath it.

Christian Gibski, who’s enrolled in Humber’s Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Technician program, was at Skills Ontario with his professor and coach Adam Lapple to take part in the Heating System Technician contest.  

Gibski, a first-year student, feels all the extra time and training to be prepared for the competition will benefit him and his future career. During their training sessions, Gibski took what he learned, applied it and received direct feedback from Lapple in the moment and that’s helped him grow and develop.

He said all the additional training felt like he’s taking an extra class and has him eager to participate in Skills again next year.

“I’m really loving the program here at Humber and I’ve received quite a bit of extra training through Skills so I feel when I graduate, I’ll be ready to jump right in and get to work,” said Gibski.

A person wearing a Humber shirt, hard hat, mask and ear protection uses a tool on a piece of wood.

Lapple, an alumni of the program, and now an instructor, wanted to be a coach because he feels Skills offers a tremendous learning experience for students and gives youth a taste of what it’s like to work in the trades if that’s a career they’re considering.

‘I’ve really been able to improve my skills’

Gretta Clarissa is a Culinary Management student who’s studying at Humber as part of an exchange program with the National Kaohsiung University of Hospitality & Tourism in Taiwan. Her professor Chef Michael Cortese-Turk told her about Skills Ontario and Clarissa felt it would be a good opportunity to increase her exposure to new culinary styles.

“I’ve really been able to improve my skills through this and by joining the competition I’ve learned and developed more than just what I would have in class,” said Clarissa.  

A person wearing a Humber shirt works on an electrical panel.

Brett Jacobs, a Mechanical Engineering Technology student, competed in Precision Machining. With an interest in machining, he felt the competition could be fun. Jacobs said signing up for Skills gave him access to work on mill and lathe machines that he wouldn’t normally have. He’s also learned new skills and called it a positive experience.

For more information about Skills, visit the Skills Ontario website.