Trust your training. That was one of the many lessons Josh Mandin, a second-year Plumbing apprentice at Lethbridge College, learned during the weeklong WorldSkills Plumbing and Heating competition in Lahr, Germany earlier this month.
“It was definitely next-level plumbing,” Mandin said after returning from the nine-day trip. “You really had to set out your list of skills, and use each tool in your own toolbox to be able to complete the project in the most efficient way, with the fewest errors possible. There were definitely some ‘Oh no!’ moments, but looking back, I wouldn't trade it for anything.”
Mandin, who won gold at the Skills Alberta provincial competition in May and the Skills Canada national competition in June, was one of 20 best plumbing apprentices from around the world who came together for three days of installing plumbing and heating systems in a diverse range of projects associated with the construction industry. While Mandin didn’t make it to the podium on the world stage (those honours went to apprentices from Austria, France and Hungary), he said he returned with new skills, new friends and a renewed appreciation for his chosen profession.
The WorldSkills Competition takes place every two years and is considered the largest and most influential skills competition in the world and represents the best of international excellence in skilled trades and technologies. Competitors come together to participate in simulated real work challenges, while being judged against international quality standards.
The plumbing tasks Mandin was given were some of the most challenging he has encountered, but he explains that “it's one of those things where the stress turns into a good stress. The thing I like to tell myself is, diamonds aren't created without stress. And with all that stress, there's always good that comes out of it. So I just had to keep my head down and work hard.”
Mandin travelled to Germany with Jeremy Bridge, the Plumbing instructor who served as his trainer and volunteered countless hours helping him prepare for the competition, and Sheldon Anderson, the college’s Dean for the Centre of Trades.
“We were very proud of the way Josh was able to handle the stress of competition,” said Anderson. “He stayed steady even when at times things fell apart. And experiencing WorldSkills gave us a better understanding of the time commitment necessary to train. I’m so impressed by the hundreds of hours that Josh and Jeremy put into training, which was all done after regular work hours.”
Mandin is working at Artex Plumbing and Gasfitting in Coalhurst as he completes his apprenticeship, and he credits his uncle as well as Bridge for encouraging him to give the first Skills competition a try. Aside from appreciating the high level of plumbing the competition required, Mandin said he also enjoyed getting to know students from around the world. As an official part of Team Canada, he came loaded down with pins, socks, pens and other swag to trade with his competitors, and returned with more than he could have imagined.
Mandin, Anderson and Bridge agreed it was an experience none will forget.
Lethbridge College offers a wealth of high-quality trades programming to all learners, regardless of their level of experience in the industry. Programs include: Agricultural Equipment Technician, Automotive Services Technician, Baker, Carpenter, Cook, Electrician, Heavy Equipment Technician, Parts Technician, Plumber, Welder and Wind Turbine Technician. To learn more about Lethbridge College’s trades programs, go to lethbridgecollege.ca/trades, email email@example.com or call 403-320-3411.