Lethbridge College unveiled a special display to honour former medal winners from Skills Competitions. A brief ceremony, attended by some previous winners, was held Saturday afternoon just before the winners of the South West Regional Skills high school event were announced.
“Lethbridge College students have done our institution proud with their success at Skills events provincially, nationally and even internationally,” said Sheldon Anderson, Dean of the college’s Centre for Trades. “Banners presented to medal winners used to be displayed in the student’s own work areas so they were scattered in our various shops and labs. We want all students and visitors to the Trades, Technologies and Innovation Facility (TTIF) to see just how successful our students and apprentices have been. They are highly skilled and it shows.”
The Honour Wall of banners from past Skills Competitions is visible from both the first and second floors of the main hallway of TTIF. Last year alone, Lethbridge College students Joshua Mandin (Plumbing) and Danny Peeters (Heavy Vehicle Technology) won gold provincially. Mandin went on to win gold at Skills Canada National Competition and competed internationally in Germany last summer. Both attended the Honour Wall event.
“We hope the banners inspire high school students who are exploring careers in trades to know they can stand among the best across Alberta, Canada and beyond,” Anderson said.
Mandin called competing in Skills a life-changing event and encouraged high school and post-secondary students to take the chance if they can.
“It was an experience I’ll never be able to replace,” Mandin said, expressing gratitude to his instructors and Lethbridge College for their support. “It shaped me into who I am today, as a plumber, and as an individual. Throughout each different competition, the stress and the skill required to complete the tasks has helped train me so that in the future of my career I’ll be more ready for what’s to come.”
Problem-solving, reading and interpreting plans, completing tasks professionally with the least waste possible, and managing time were all key skills needed to succeed in competition, Mandin said.
Saturday’s South West Regional Skills Canada Competition was the first held in-person since 2019, with 63 high school students competing in 10 categories Saturday, ranging from auto service technology, cabinet making and welding to photography, video production and hairstyling.
Winners in the regional event will have an opportunity to compete against other high school students in the provincial Skills Canada Alberta competition. Lethbridge College students don’t compete regionally. Post-secondary students can advance directly to the provincial event by applying to compete and getting a reference from their school.
Winners from the Skills Canada Alberta event May 3 and 4 in Edmonton will become part of Team Alberta, competing at the Skills Canada National Competition in Winnipeg May 25 and 26.
Judy Stolk Ingram, executive director of Career Transitions which organizes the South West Regional Skills Competition, said the event was an excellent way for high school students to explore a trade or technology career path.
“Students can get a taste of what a career in one of these fields can be like,” Stolk Ingram says. “They can be quite successful, and they had a chance to experience Lethbridge College’s excellent facilities and instructors, many of whom support the event as judges and volunteers.”
The names of Lethbridge College students who will compete provincially will be announced in April.
New this year, Career Transitions and Lethbridge College, in partnership with Navistar, Southland International and Cam’s Ag and Auto, held the South West HET (Heavy Equipment Technician) Skills Challenge. This event provided six high school students in the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) an introduction to Skills Canada competition. This year is the 50th anniversary of the Lethbridge College HET program.
Isaac Williams, a Grade 12 student at Lethbridge Collegiate Institute, has been in the RAP program for two years, working at a local business when he had spare time in his high school schedule. Those hours now count toward his apprenticeship, giving him a head start toward his journeyman accreditation. He plans to begin his four years of course work at Lethbridge College after high school.
“Ever since I was little, I’ve liked engines, I’ve liked cars and trucks, and anything that moves and makes noise,” Williams said Saturday, after the HET Skills Challenge. “As soon as I could get into it, I got into it and haven’t stopped.”
He said the challenge was a great opportunity to learn about engine components, hydraulic systems, air brakes and how to set up tools and ensure components are within required specifications.
“It’s not a competition environment,” he said. “It’s like we’re friends and coworkers in there. We talk and exchange information. I think of it as a good way to learn. I enjoyed learning from the others and the challenges that I did.”
Saturday’s event was attended and supported by many industry and business partners who need skilled trades people.