Pictured here are the seven apprenticeship students from Red Deer College who were recognized this week for their accomplishments at a Skills Canada, which was held earlier this year. Mark Weber/Red Deer Express

Apprenticeship students’ Skills Canada successes recognized

Three RDC students will be vying for spots on Team Canada for WorldSkills 2019 in Russia

Seven apprenticeship students from Red Deer College have been recognized for their accomplishments at Skills Canada competitions earlier this year.

During the event this week, the students were joined by their coaches, employers, college leaders and Skills Canada representatives who’ve been supporting them each step of the way.

“Apprenticeship programs have been and will continue to be a critical part of Red Deer College as we transition to university status,” said Joel Ward, RDC president. “We talk about the kind of institution we are going to be. It’s an apprenticeship model really, where every single student in every single program has an opportunity to practice what they learn in a real-world environment,” he said.

“The model of apprenticeship, the model of this School of Trades and Technology, is the model we are going to emulate as we build this new university together.”

Of the seven students who were honoured, three will be vying for spots on Team Canada, looking for a chance to represent the nation at WorldSkills 2019 in Russia.

These include Eric Koster (electrical installations) and Justin Meldrum (welder) who each earned gold at the 2018 Skills Canada National Competition.

Meldrum said his instructors at RDC have been awesome, and have really made the difference. “It’s a great program,” he said.

“It was a lot of hard work and a lot of practice,” he said of the journey to get to this point.

Koster agreed.

“It took a lot of work, but I think it’s worthwhile. I’m pretty excited about the chance to go to Russia,” he said.

Taylor McCallum, (plumbing), will also be joining them at the WorldSkills Team Canada Selection event in Halifax next year as well after being named one of the top two age-eligible (22 and under) competitors at Nationals.

“I won gold at Provincials and I ended up getting fifth at Nationals, and I was one of two that was age-eligible,” he explained. “Now I have to compete against one other guy to see who gets to go to Russia for the Worlds,” he added. McCallum, who is 21, recently wrapped up his third year of study at RDC.

“I like that I get to do something different everyday,” he said of his trade of choice.

Another gold medalist at Provincials was Tom Friesen (sprinkler systems). The silver medalists include Philemon Germaine (electrical installations) and Duston Mickle (sprinkler systems). Finally, the bronze medalist was Josiah Pilon (carpentry).

Meanwhile, Joel Gingrich, dean of RDC’s School of Trades and Technologies, said the event to honour the students dovetailed with the College’s core values – community, excellence and learners.

“Students who participate in Skills Canada competitions have a unique opportunity to gain knowledge and expertise beyond their program learning as they prepare for and compete in competitions,” he said.

“It’s a rewarding experience for the students and their coaches, and we are so proud of all of our apprenticeship students who dedicate their time and effort to these provincial and national events.”

Chris Browton, executive director of Skills Canada Alberta, said that his organization’s competitions provide the venue for apprentices to compete at the highest level, while also developing a range of skills and making connections that will benefit them down the road.

“For those being recognized here today, I say congratulations. You are exceptionally talented, you have tremendous skills. And you probably don’t think of yourselves in this regard, but you are role models,” he said.

“We want to hear your successes, we want to hear your stories, and to be part of your journey along the way.”

RDC has a strong history at Skills Canada competitions.

The banner raising event this week also acknowledged 41 alumni who have received medals at Provincial and National Skills Canada events since 2008.

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