The World Skills competition was an incredible experience for Ryan Folk, one that he expects will serve him well in his career.
Folk, who is originally from Stoughton, represented Canada in the electrical installations category at World Skills in Kazan, Russia, from Aug. 22-27.
While he didn’t medal at the global event, he still put forward an excellent showing that demonstrated his abilities while going against some of the best young people in the world in his field.
The week in Russia began with a chance to unwind, recover from the jetlag and sightsee around Kazan. World Skills planned some excursions and tours around the city.
“We went to an elementary school, and spent some time with some kids there, and hung out with them and talked about Canada and Russia,” he said in an interview with Lifestyles.
Opening ceremonies were held Aug. 22, and then the competition ran from Aug. 23-26. Medals were handed out at the closing ceremonies Aug. 27.
In the electrical installations division, the competitors were assigned a project they had to complete. It was a general install with different electrical components with raceways, cabinets and wiring methods.
“Mixed in, most of it was automated with a home automation system, and there was also some motor control and a smart relay control,” said Folk.
He admits it’s hard to explain the project to someone who isn’t from an electrician’s background, but it was fairly intricate, which is to be expected at the world championship level.
“It was a fairly difficult project to complete in the time that they gave us,” said Folk.
The project he had to complete was more difficult than the one from Skills Canada nationals in May.
“There’s no home automation at our nationals, and just learning that is a challenge in itself. And then just with the different type of materials and all that kind of stuff that they want us to use, it’s way harder,” said Folk.
The level of competition was much tougher, too, not just in his event, but the other trades.
“Especially from a lot of the Asian countries, they had some pretty solid guys, and you could tell from the closing ceremonies. They placed in a lot of categories,” said Folk.
At one point, he said it was somewhat similar to the Olympics, because the best were there representing their countries.
He hasn’t received much feedback from the judges yet to let him know what he did well and where he could use improvement. There were some issues with his equipment the final day, and a couple of the experts from other countries noticed that.
“After the competition, they walked me through what went wrong and that kind of stuff, but that’s about all that I’ve heard right now. I haven’t received any marks back or anything back as of yet.”
He believes he managed his time well, and his general install of the equipment was pretty good.
Thirty-two young adults in 29 different skilled trades categories were on Team Canada for the world event. A few of the Team Canada members worked in teams.
Since winning the national championship, Folk had been travelling to Regina to receive guidance and instruction from Canada’s entrant in electrical installations at the 2017 World Skills competition, who happens to reside in the Queen City. Folk estimates he spent 12-16 hours there each weekend so he could be as ready as possible for World Skills.
They also worked together prior to the national competition.
The training, and the experience of his instructor helped a lot.
“He knew a lot of the ins and outs of the project, and had a whole bunch of tips for me. I definitely wouldn’t have gone to worlds if it weren’t for him. It helped out a tonne.”
Folk expects the experience of going to an international competition will help him out a lot as he moves forward with his career. A lot of the things he encountered in Kazan are things that he doesn’t do on a day-to-day basis.
“As far as the functionality of my project, that probably won’t help me too much day to day, but the rest of the stuff and what I’ve learned about being more precise about everything, I think that will help me a lot day to day.”
Would he help out with training a future competitor? Folk said he would consider it, if the opportunity came up.
“If there’s another competitor from Saskatchewan, I’d definitely be willing to lend a hand.”
Going to Russia was also a great experience. He said Kazan is similar to parts of Canada with its scenery and weather. But it felt different being in another country, and the infrastructure was different, too.
“I definitely would have never thought I’d be going to Russia one day, that’s for sure. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
And it was his one chance to go to World Skills as well. There is an age limit of 24 to compete at World Skills, and people can only compete at the event once. It was still a great experience that he’s glad he was a part of.