By: Nicole Mosher

If you’ve been on the C-Trains at all this week, it was probably impossible to miss the large groups of similarly dressed folk, often speaking other languages. There’s no doubt you have noticed the many visitors WorldSkills 2009 has drawn to our city. But how did this international event all come together?

I took a ride on the C-Train and ran into one of the local volunteers for WorldSkills Calgary 2009. She shared her insight into how the event came to be and why Calgary embraced it.

NGC: “Where did all these volunteers come from?”

Volunteer: “Since Worldskills is its own event, there was no organization of volunteers in place before this event chose Calgary (Calgary was chosen over Edmonton by the way!). Organization started over a year and a half ago, building up to 3000 volunteers! Applications were sent in on-line. Most people are volunteering for 12 hours or more in areas from food services to marketing and everything in between.”

NGC: “How does hosting an event like this benefit Calgary?”

Volunteer: “It really raises the profile of Trades. In Canada, our education system is geared toward putting students into universities, we often forget, some may even say we look down on the decision to pursue a trade. But the Trades are important and this competition shows that. It also shows us that elsewhere in the world the Trades are very high profile. Did you hear Korea is awarding $50,000, a house and a job to their winners?”

NGC: “What is Calgary doing to host all of these visitors?”

Volunteer: “The SAIT Campus has been taken over as residences for the competitors. Obviously they are taking advantage of our great transit system and they are getting exposure to other “Calgarian” things like organized bus trips to Banff, experiencing the Stampede Grounds including NASHVILLE NORTH!”

NGC: “So if I want to go down to check it out, what do I do?”

Volunteer: “It’s free admission, you just show up on park and you’ll get one of these (holding up a lanyard and ID pouch) which has an RFID chip in it so they can record where you’ve gone on park, how long you’ve stayed there, etc (Ed note: the General Access passes that you get now currently no longer have them). It’s really high tech and it’s going to help them plan other events in the future.

Oh, and don’t miss the Coca-Cola stage performances and the Artisan Village at Olympic Plaza either!”

At this point I’d reached my C-Train stop so our interview ended, but I’m definitely heading down to check it out for myself tomorrow!