Alberni NIC instructor judges at skills event

Port Alberni's Stephen McIntosh will be Canada’s joinery chief expert at the WorldSkills International Competition in London, England, in October.

North Island College instructor Stephen McIntosh inspects a student’s work at the Port Alberni campus.

Stephen McIntosh knows great joinery when he sees it.

The Port Alberni-based instructor will be Canada’s joinery chief expert at the WorldSkills International Competition in London, England, in October, when the world’s best joinery students compete for the international title.

Sometimes called the Olympics of skill-building competitions, WorldSkills International is a non-profit association that brings together thousands of youth, trainers and experts for a four-day competition every two years. Youth from 51 countries compete in a wide variety of skills, from aircraft maintenance to graphic design and fashion technology before more than 200,000 spectators.

McIntosh is the only Canadian judge to be voted into the joinery chief expert position, and will be responsible for organizing and managing joinery events, keeping up with changing rules, and liaising with experts from each nation in the competition.

“It’s very humbling to be elected,” he said. “The fact that I’m even considered at the same level as some of the other judges is incredible.”

McIntosh has been involved in the WorldSkills International Competition since 1999 in montreal, where he worked as a trainer to prepare the Canadian cabinetmaking competitor for the event. Since then, he has been invited to judge competitions in France, Brazil and Australia. He was an expert in Korea, Switzerland, and Japan and became the deputy chief expert in Canada in 2009.

McIntosh’s presence at NIC allows students to learn the world’s best joinery and cabinetmaking techniques from an expert in their field. From craftsmanship to safety and creating a fair and respectful learning experience, students will benefit fro his many years of training students for international competitions.

“It’s a great way to expose NIC students to what’s happening in the world in your field,” McIntosh said.

In the joinery competition, students show off their fine woodworking skills to create precise dovetail, mortise-and-tenon, biscuit, lap and spline joints used in the construction of doors, windows, stairs and other architectural projects.

McIntosh has been working with Canada’s competitor, Alex Vogel, and his trainers over the past year, building past competition projects, training to prepare for the stresses of competition and developing strategies to increase speed and precision.

McIntosh came to NIC from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary, where he taught apprenticeship cabinetmaking and carpentry classes. He moved to Port Alberni in March to focus his instruction on the craft of joinery and the artistic side of furniture design.

“Students from the Joinery/Cabinetmaking Foundation program have won several gold medals at the provincial and Skills Canada competitions,” said Don Gillingham, NIC’s dean of trades and technology.

“Stephen’s vision, expertise and gentle demeanor will further enhance the experience of anyone wanting to develop or improve their skills as a joiner or furniture-maker.”

The nine-month program allows students to design, construct, finish and repair high-quality wood products such as cabinets, furniture and fixtures while gaining apprenticeship training credit toward their interprovincial (RedSeal) certification.

For more information about the Joinery/Cabinetmaking Foundation program starting this September at NIC, contact a student advisor at 250-724-8711 or visit www.nic.bc.ca/trades.

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