Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to highlight a very important event which will take place in April and May, in both Yellowknife and Fort Smith. Mr. Speaker, ten years ago in Barrie, Ontario, Skills Canada, employers, educators, labour groups and governments began their program, working to ensure that students are exposed to, and will consider, jobs in the skilled trades and technology fields.
Through trial and error, it has been discovered that competitions make these occupations more visible and real for students, teachers and parents. In the past decade over 100,000 students have been directly influenced by the program. In 1999, the first Territorial Skills Competition was held in Fort Smith and Yellowknife. Over 80 students and apprentices from the Northwest Territories and Nunavut participated. A team of 53 competitors and team leaders went on to represent Team Nunavut/NWT at the Canadian Skills Competition in Kitchener. Mr. Speaker, we received five top five finishes, including two silver and a bronze medal.
The employers of our apprentices have been generous in providing paid leave for the competitors. At the national competitions, many of the competitors are offered jobs onsite.
Mr. Speaker, the goals of Skills Canada NWT should be the goals of all of us. To have more regional participation in these competitions at the high school level, to increase participation of young women in skilled trades and technology careers, and to have more companies registering and hiring apprentices.
In an effort to help Skills Canada NWT get established, HRDC has funded this program for the past two years, Additionally, in the past year alone, approximately $100,000 in-kind contributions were received in the form of equipment and materials, from local industry, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment and Aurora College.
This year the second Skills Canada NWT Competition will be held April 19th and 20th in Fort Smith, and May 11th in Yellowknife, to select Team NWT for the national skills competition this June. Territorial industry is facing a critical shortage of skilled labour. Opportunities are being lost in current oil, gas and mineral development. More youth participating in Skills Canada NWT competitions is a win-win situation. In closing, Mr. Speaker, I urge the government to fund and continue their support of this worthwhile project. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.