Second-year Lethbridge College Plumbing apprentice Joshua Mandin needed a little convincing from his uncle, a Carpentry instructor, to try competing for the first time in the Skills Canada Alberta competition in Edmonton in May.
“My uncle said it was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss and an experience I’d carry all my life,” Mandin says. So, he signed up – and ended up winning gold medals at both the provincial and national competitions.
Mandin’s success at Skills Canada nationals in late May means he is the best Plumbing apprentice in the country and officially part of Team Canada. Mandin will attend a WorldSkills plumbing competition from Oct. 29 to Nov. 6 in Lehr, Germany. He says he is looking forward to the trip and will continue to train and prepare for the upcoming competition using the shop space at the college. Mandin adds that Skills Canada officials “told us to continue our training throughout the summer, and to ‘be ready’!” to bring home hardware from the national competition.
Automotive Systems student Tyson Rasmussen and Heavy Vehicle Technology apprentice Danny Peeters both won bronze medals in their categories at nationals after qualifying at the provincial level. Peeters also won a gold medal in the national competition last year.
“We’re so proud of all of the students who represented Lethbridge College at the Skills competitions, and we were thrilled to see Josh, Tyson and Danny do so well,” says Sheldon Anderson, Dean of the Centre for Trades. “We also appreciate the instructors who served as coaches this year, including Jeremy Bridge (plumbing), Eric Mitchell (automotives) and Walter Michel (heavy equipment). They gave so much time outside of class to help their students be as prepared as they could be.”
Mandin, a talented musician who plays piano and alto saxophone and sings, is a lifelong Lethbridge resident who graduated from Lethbridge Collegiate Institute. He 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 competition a try.
“Jeremy pulled me aside one day and said ‘hey, do you want to compete in Skills?” Mandin recalls. “I was like, oh, I don’t know, I’ll have to think about it. Then my uncle convinced me. I’ve only been on the tools for 2.5 years. It was a massive learning curve and there are still days where I know I have a lot to learn, but I’m glad that it went as well as it did.”
Bridge admires Mandin’s commitment to preparing for the competitions, noting that he was working nearly 12-hour days before coming in for three more hours of practice three nights a week.
“I am very proud of how hard Josh has worked to prepare for both the provincial and national Skills competitions,” says Bridge. “It is so great to see his dedication be rewarded with medals at both competitions. I have had many of the competition committee members, judges, coaches and participants tell me that they admire his skills and pleasant personality as well. He has been a great ambassador for Lethbridge College and for our Plumbing Apprenticeship program!”
Mandin is the third Lethbridge College student to win gold at Skills Canada. In addition to his win this year and Peeters’ win in 2021, Nathaniel deWilde won in the Heavy Equipment Technician category in 2015.
Skills Canada was founded in 1989 as a national, not‐for-profit organization that works with employers, educators, labour groups and governments to promote skilled trades and technology careers among Canadian youth. The Skills Canada National Competition is the only national, multi-trade and technology competition for students and apprentices in the country.
The WorldSkills Competition, which takes place every two years, 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 represent the best of their peers and come together to participate in simulated real work challenges, while being judged against international quality standards. 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, go to lethbridgecollege.ca/trades.
TRICKS FROM THE TOOLBOX
With Plumbing instructor Jeremy Bridge
Wider Horizons asked Plumbing instructor Jeremy Bridge if he had any plumbing tips or advice for readers. Here’s what he had to say.
“I’ve been getting a lot of calls lately about a type of plastic water line piping that was commonly used as an alternative to copper water lines in the 1990s. The pipe is manufactured from a material called polybutylene, and our plumber jargon refers to it as “poly-b.”
Poly-b is no longer manufactured because it is prone to failures, resulting in burst pipes and lots of insurance claims due to water damage and flooding. It has been replaced by a better plastic called PEX which stands for crosslinked (X) polyethylene (PE).
The reason I’ve been getting so many calls recently is because insurance companies are beginning to deny homeowners insurance if the house has any poly-b used for the water lines. It is highly recommended to replace all poly-b lines because of their tendency to fail. Although many different manufacturers sold poly-b it all looks similar – grey flexible plastic tubing. PEX, on the other hand, comes in a variety of colours but NEVER grey. Grey is bad.
Every now and then I’ll get a call from somebody I know who is looking at buying a home, and they ask if there’s anything plumbing-wise that they should look for. I always tell them if their house was built or renovated in the 1990s and has that lovely, sponge paint job on the walls or a dusty rose carpet, you’ll probably find that bad, grey-coloured water line called Poly-b too! And, just like that unbearable carpet and paint, it needs to be replaced ASAP!
Readers can learn more at www.poly-b.com, and they should contact a plumber if they have poly-b in their house and would like to talk about having it replaced.”