Industrial mechanics apprentice wins silver at Skills Canada competition

Submitted photo Calvin Getchell, an industrial mechanic apprentice at the New Brunswick Community College, raises the provincial flag along with his silver and RBC Best of New Brunswick medals he won at this year’s Skills Canada National Competition.

ST. STEPHEN – An industrial mechanics apprentice from the New Brunswick Community College brought home a silver medal from the Skills Canada National Competition (SCNC).

Calvin Getchell was one of more than 300 students from throughout Canada to participate in the May 26 and 27 event in Vancouver.

“I’m pretty ecstatic,” he said, following the win.

Prior to beginning his course in industrial mechanics, the St. Stephen student completed a course in welding and competed in respective events at SCNC.

Getchell describes this year’s competition as different in many ways, one being his difference in familiarity with the two trades.

“I was familiar with welding … but with industrial mechanics it was a little more stressful because it was new to me,” he said.

Sitting in chemistry class in his Grade 12 year, Getchell remembers not knowing what he wanted to do after high school. He had competed in welding competitions in grades 11 and 12 and was good at it. He recalls thinking, ‘why not welding?’

Getchell had chosen not to pursue post-secondary education until he was sure he’d be studying something he cared about.

“I definitely don’t regret (welding),” Getchell said.

Industrial mechanics felt like a natural progression, and Getchell wanted to learn something new.

“Having both welding and industrial mechanics opens more doors. It’s a two for one deal,” he said.

Before competing in this year’s national competition, Getchell had two months to teach himself the three blocks of schooling he had yet to complete. With plenty of studying and lots of help from, “the wonderful world of YouTube,” as Getchell puts it, he won the silver medal.

Accompanying his silver medal, Getchell was also awarded the RBC Best of New Brunswick award and will receive $1,500 toward his future in the trades. He plans to use the money to improve his at-home training equipment and help with the rest of his studies.

“It will definitely help with school.”

Currently, Getchell is apprenticing at Saint John Refinery.

“I like how the apprenticeship works because you work and then go to school for two months,” he said. “The trade is so fast, it’s hard for school to cover everything.”

Although he isn’t certain what his future looks like, he’s happy to work in the skilled trades as he explains there just aren’t enough workers, especially with the current demand due to pushed off maintenance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There’s not enough people to keep up,” he said.

RBC’s ‘Powering Up’ report on the future of skilled trades reports that Canada will experience severe shortages of at least 10,000 workers in nationally-recognized skilled trades; 700,000 skilled trades workers are anticipated to retire by 2028, the most significant trades affected will be welders, boilermakers, and mechanics.

Before he can begin adding to the workforce full-time, Getchell plans to work toward a gold medal at the 2023 Skills Canada National Competition.