Okanagan College Student to Compete in Skills Provincials Competition
You can't put a price on mentorship.
That's what Joey Bruno is finding, now in his third year of Auto Body and Collision Technician training at Okanagan College, and preparing to face the B.C.’s best apprentices at Skills Provincials this month.
He was initially inspired by his father to pursue collision repair after growing up in the automotive world.
“My father was in the industry for 30 years, and I have always been around vehicles. The older I got, the more love I had for automotive,” Bruno says.
The Mission resident started looking at all the schools that offered Automotive Collision Repair programs, and landed on Okanagan College quickly.
“Best decision of my life,” Bruno says of choosing OC, with its new Kelowna Trades Complex. “The teachers and instructors are first rate, and the shops at OC were more up to date with the latest technologies than the other schools I visited.”
Immersed in the training in that state-of-the-art environment, Bruno’s skills began to shine like a high-gloss top coat. This caught the eye of OC’s Collision Repair department, which asked him to represent the school at Skills Provincials in April.
“He’s got all the skills and qualities needed to succeed at the competition,” said Andreas Roth, OC’s Collision Repair Instructor.
For the Autobody Repair division, the journeyperson must complete different types of welding, structural dimension measurements and dent repair on plastic and aluminum materials. The final component is a structural repair of a specific automotive component like a fender.
“The competition itself is really challenging,” Roth recalls. “You’re working in a fenced-off area and people are watching you work. It’s almost a spectator sport.”
Roth knows first-hand how tough the competition is. In 2017 in his third year of apprenticeship, he was one of three OC students who competed provincially, where they owned the podium of gold, silver and bronze. Because Roth had earned gold, he advanced to Skills Canada national championships where he captured a bronze medal.
“The fact you are there means you’re already a winner,” Roth says. “But it’s a boost to your career. Employers look at you a little differently, instructors look at you differently and you look at yourself a little differently too. It’s an achievement and it builds your confidence.”
Roth is now coaching Bruno to prepare for the provincial competition. “We don’t put pressure on competitors because it’s challenging enough. We’re proud of all our students. Hopefully we’ll have fun and enjoy the experience.”
While working at Central Abbotsford Craftsman, Bruno is honing his skills before stepping into the ring. “I’m excited, this is a great opportunity to show off the school and what I've learned.”