In the spring sun and breeze of a Friday afternoon, students from Owen Sound District Secondary School (OSDSS) recently showcased their construction and carpentry skills as part of the 2022 Skills Ontario Competition.

With the provincial event being held virtually this year, the three student teams set up their workstations in the tennis court area adjacent to OSDSS on April 22 with construction technology teacher Owen Ferguson close at hand.

In the ‘Home and Team Building – Team of Four’ category was the team of Landon Heathers, Brody Graham, Cole Brown, and Austin Ellis, as well as the all-female team of Juliet Williams, Keira Wrigley, Isla Adams, and Sequoia Timmerman.



In what turned into a friendly showdown of the boys versus the girls, both teams spent the afternoon engaged in a home building project, which involved the construction of a small shed. It was an amazing experience to watch the projects quickly develop from concept to standing structure as the students worked feverishly measuring, sawing, hammering, erecting walls, and installing a roof.

SOC01Competing in the ‘Carpentry – Team of Two’ category, Berik Walker and Jake Matcheski dedicated their day to building a beautiful garden arbour with bench.

In a slightly different format in light of the pandemic, photos of the all the teams’ creations are being submitted to Skills Ontario for judging in the provincial competition with results to be announced on May 4.

The day also presented an opportunity for Grade 6 students to learn more about the skilled trades with groups from nearby Hillcrest Elementary, Alexandra Community, and Keppel-Sarawak Elementary schools visiting to view the competition and tour OSDSS’ tech shops.

While OSDSS is the only school in Bluewater District School Board to compete in this year’s provincial event, local students continue to take advantage of the many skilled trades opportunities offered by our schools. There is much to consider for those with an interest in exploring skilled trades career pathways.

All nine of our secondary schools offer Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) programs with a range including Agriculture, Arts and Culture, Construction, Environment, Health and Wellness, Horticulture and Landscaping, Hospitality and Tourism, Information and Communications Technology, Manufacturing, and Transportation. Board wide, there are currently 31 SHSM programs available, which is a footprint exceeding the provincial average. SHSM programs allow students to focus their learning on a specific economic sector while meeting the requirements of their Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD), and assisting in their transition to postsecondary apprenticeship training, college, university, or the workplace.

Students also have access to the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP). This co-operative education program is offered in all secondary schools and allows for ‘real world’ hands-on learning in skilled trades occupations while students work towards their OSSD.

So far during the 2021-2022 school year, almost 500 students have been exploring the skilled trades through co-operative education across Bruce and Grey counties. Businesses and industries that take co-op placements often see the high caliber of students during these placements and offer to sponsor them as apprentices. OYAP is also able to register students as apprentices while they are still in secondary school, so that upon graduation, they will continue their training in an apprenticeship capacity. Apprenticeship is a first-choice pathway to careers in the skilled trades offering a diverse range of career options in the Motive Power, Industrial, Service, and Construction sectors. OYAP works hard to dispel myths about careers in the skilled trades, and to ensure students understand apprenticeships are earned and not just given. The skilled trades are where STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is applied every day as students prepare for diverse and rewarding careers. OYAP also offers the popular Level One Cook, Level One Carpentry, and new Level One Millwright programs. Students can speak to their teacher or guidance teacher for more details. To learn more about OYAP, visit

source: media release