Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

MIKE HOLMES: Intense WorldSkills event deserves TV time

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Last week I was in Leipzig, Germany, for WorldSkills 2013.

It's an international competition that involves over 40 different trades -- everything from autobody repair, bricklaying and welding to restaurant service, web design and floristry. It's basically the Olympics of skilled trades. And what I saw blew me away.

The kids that go to this competition have unbelievable drive. Imagine: Over 1,000 competitors -- mostly under 25 -- from all over the world, pushing non-stop for four days straight. The focus and determination they have is something that everyone needs to see.

That's why I made sure I brought my son, Mike Holmes Jr. to WorldSkills with me this year. He's doing an apprenticeship in carpentry -- I'm really proud of him. But I thought it was important for him to see people around his age dedicated to their trade -- mind, body and soul. If you work in the trades, watching these competitors makes you proud of what you do -- myself included!

Junior and I walked around the competition floor watching Team Canada, which eventually took gold in the Heating and Refrigeration category, and was also awarded 14 medals of excellence.

Each trade has its own competition area that's sectioned off, so you can't get too close -- not that the competitors even knew we were there as their focus was so intense. That's how I know this competition is working.

WorldSkills isn't televised. But my goal is to change that. The next WorldSkills is going to be in Brazil in 2015 and it needs to be on television to help get the right people into the right trades.

We're facing a major shortage in tradespeople. That's no secret. If you think it's tough finding the right pros now, just wait.

Hiring the right people for any home repair, maintenance or reno project will be practically impossible. For one, there won't be many pros out there. And if you find one you'll be waiting months before they can even look at your project.

Then try paying for their service. Remember supply and demand? If there's a big demand for professional tradespeople, but there aren't enough of them, it will be really expensive to hire the good ones.

But this isn't just about finding a good contractor, painter or plumber. Tradespeople support every major infrastructure and industry in our modern world. That's transportation, health care, communications -- everything you see around you was built, made and maintained by a tradesperson.

If there aren't enough of these pros, it's going to have a ripple effect that will impact our economy and the lives of every person in the country. Tradespeople deserve our respect and they need our support.

But too many parents don't want their kids to pursue a career in the trades. They think it's a step down. But if you look at the actual numbers, you have a better chance of finding a job if you're a skilled tradesperson -- and also of making more money than many college or university graduates. I'm not saying every person should be doing a trade. But if you love it, do it.

Let me give you an example. One Team Canada competitor, David, had previously attended university. Even though he was among the top in his class, he decided to leave the program in his third year to pursue a career in mechatronics.

Now, David's competing on the global level and achieving success he had never dreamed of. Why? Because he was true to himself and is doing something that he loves. Those are exactly the type of people we need in the trades.

And that's the mission behind WorldSkills. I want youth to see, taste, smell and feel the passion that WorldSkills competitors have for what they do. And that passion -- as well as the integrity and drive of the competitors -- will be passed on to kids who see this competition. That's why it's important that we get this competition televised.

This year I was honoured to become a WorldSkills Ambassador, and I'm taking this message around the world to get the right people into the trades. It's a privilege to pass on the passion for what I love.

The stakes are high. If there was ever a competition that was important to future generations and the global economy, it's WorldSkills. It's time the world knows.

Catch Mike Holmes in his new series, Holmes Makes It Right Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on HGTV. For more information, visit hgtv.ca. For more information on home renovations, visit makeitright.ca.

-- Postmedia News

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 20, 2013 F3

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