Caelum Soprovich, a student in the full-time automotive service technician program at Vancouver Island University, recently returned from the Skills Canada provincial competition with the bronze medal. The annual event brings together the top competitors in trades from around the province who advanced from regional competition earlier in the year.
“The regionals were a good lead up to this,” said automotive program instructor Ron DePape. “The provincials are a higher level.”
This year, 13 students represented the community at regionals in carpentry, welding, hairdressing, auto service and culinary arts. Soprovich won gold and Eric Larson earned the silver medal for automotive service, and Inti Bergeron won gold in culinary arts.
Bergeron and Soprovich, accompanied by DePape and culinary arts instructor Mike Austin, participated in the provincial competition.
“It was quite well organized,” said Soprovich. “We had six tasks and were given 50 minutes for each task.”
Preparing for the competition involved practising all the skills he has learned so far in his training, he added.
DePape said it is always rewarding to see his students shine.
“From an instructor’s point of view it’s a blast to watch these students compete at that level because they’re competing with the top students in the province,” he said. “To win any kind of a medal at that stage, it’s no small feat. Bronze is as good as gold.”
Currently Soprovich is completing the work experience part of his course at a local shop and will write his level-one certificate toward his apprenticeship training, said DePape.
“The goal is to get his red seal, which takes about four years,” he added. “Then he’ll be a certified mechanic and can work anywhere in Canada.”
The dual-credit program is a partnership between Brooks Secondary School and VIU that allows high school students to graduate while also completing a VIU trade certification. DePape said the level of education being offered through the local program is evident by how frequently students medal at regionals and provincials.
“We’ve pulled medals at the provincial level three of the last five years for automotive,” said DePape. “For a small satellite university we’re doing pretty good.”