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What’s new with the Skills Ontario GIS competition

The annual Skills Ontario GIS competition will be held in person this year. Find out what’s new with the event and discover resources to prepare your students for the challenge.

Skills Ontario is a non-profit organization that partners with school boards, colleges, small businesses, large companies, labour groups and governments to provide opportunities for youth to explore and develop skills for successful careers in the skilled trades and technologies.

Our group is involved in the annual Skills Ontario GIS competition, where students work in teams of two for over five hours to answer a real-world question that takes place in Ontario. They are provided relevant data to conduct analysis, engage in critical thinking, and create maps based on criteria included in the question. At the end of the day, each team is required to present and submit to the judges their findings in an ArcGIS StoryMap.

The image shows students working together in front of computer monitors.

Students in teams of two have about five and half hours to answer the Skills Ontario GIS question.

This event is a great opportunity for students to learn how GIS is applied to a problem that GIS professionals would answer in their work. The experience helps students build their skills of inquiry and analysis that can be used beyond high school.

        The image shows students discussing their work in front of computer monitors.

Students gain hands-on experience and have the opportunity to show off their GIS skills at the annual competition.

What’s new this year?

Let’s find out the changes to the 2023 competition:

  1. In-Person
    We’re excited to announce the Skills Ontario GIS competition is planned to be held
    in-person on Tuesday May 2nd at the Toronto Congress Centre. Students participated virtually the last two years.
  2. A new software option
    ArcGIS Pro is the latest software option for students to use at the Skills Ontario GIS competition. We want to ensure students are using software that is an industry- standard in Canada and globally. All K-12 teachers and students can access ArcGIS Pro through the ArcGIS for Schools Bundle. Request access at
    ArcGIS Online will remain an option to answer the question and all students will use ArcGIS Online to create an ArcGIS StoryMap to present their findings to the judges.
    Note: As ArcGIS Desktop will be retiring soon, it will no longer be a software option to use at the competition.
  3. Bring your own laptop
    Students are required to bring their own laptops. If they plan to use ArcGIS Pro to answer the question, the software is required to be installed in advance of the competition day.

Learn more about this year’s GIS competition by reading the 2023 competition scope.

Skills Ontario GIS competition – over 15 years running!

Past competition questions include the issue of increased gun violence in the City of Toronto and its impact on the youth population and analysing the healthy food options and recreational services available for children and youth in Hamilton, Ontario.

The image shows students working together on web maps in front of computer monitors.

Using GIS to make informed decisions based on a real-world issue in Ontario.

Why should your students get involved?

If you are interested in getting your students involved this year, check out the
5 reasons from last year’s wrap up post. Explore previous competition questions and the Skills GIS Competition preparation document to prepare your students for the 2023 competition. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at

Good luck to all the participants this year! We’re looking forward to seeing all the teams in person

About the Author

Angela Alexander is a K-12 Education Specialist in the Esri Canada Education and Research group. She has over 15 years of experience working with educators across Canada. Angela focuses on producing geographic information system (GIS) and curriculum-specific resources, and conducting and creating custom workshops for educators. She manages the GIS Ambassador Program and is the Technical Chair for the annual Skills Ontario GIS competition. Angela also writes monthly posts for the Esri Canada Education and Research blog, highlighting K-12 educators and partners, new ArcGIS resources and GIS-related events.

Profile Photo of Angela Alexander