Skip to main content

Lakeland apprentice outdoes Canada

By June 17, 2024No Comments
James Wilson, centre, a heavy equipment technician apprentice at Lakeland College in Vermilion, won a gold medal with Team Alberta at this year’s Skills Canada National Competition in Quebec City. Supplied Photo


Lakeland College may have to commission bronze statues of its gold medal winners from the Skills Canada National Competition for the past two years.

Third-year apprentice James Wilson won gold with Team Alberta at this year’s Skills Canada National Competition in Quebec City May 30-31.

Wilson’s top showing follows a gold won by carpenter apprentice Tyler Bendfeld at last year’s nationals in Winnipeg.

“I don’t think I can put the feeling I had into words,” said Wilson, a heavy equipment technician apprentice at Lakeland Vermilion campus.

“I was sitting with Team Alberta as the judges announced the winners of bronze and silver, and I had been hoping I might win one of those.

“They rattled off New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and I thought I didn’t win anything. And then they just said ‘Alberta, James Wilson, Gold.’ I tell you, I just about fell out of my chair.”

By winning gold last year, Bendfeld served as a mentor on Team Alberta, which Wilson says was cheering like crazy in Quebec.

“It was an awesome experience,” said Wilson who hails from Bonnyville, Alta.

He competed in the Heavy Vehicle Technology category in Quebec, demonstrating skills learned on the job and in apprenticeship training at Lakeland College, including troubleshooting hydraulic, electrical, steering and engine systems.

The tasks he was assigned were similar in scope to those he had mastered for the Skills Alberta Competition, but this time, at a new level of difficulty.

“We are incredibly proud of James for winning gold at Nationals,” said Dave King, dean of trades and technology at Lakeland.  

“His achievement is a testament to the high-quality education and training our apprentices receive at Lakeland.”

King says he appreciates Wilson’s’ employer, MPI Oilfield, for allowing him to take time for this life-changing opportunity at the nationals and for MPI for supporting Wilson financially.

“Without the added support of employers, this doesn’t happen,” added King.

He says Lakeland looks forward to seeing Wilson continue to excel in his career and now he has the distinction of being a national champion in his chosen trade.

“Anyone who has the opportunity to compete for Skills Alberta and Skills Canada, I highly recommend they do it. It’s one heck of an experience,” Wilson said.

“It’s like nothing you’ll ever do in your entire life when it comes to the trade you’re in and what you’re doing for work.

“Thank you to Lakeland for recommending I go and for getting me outside of my comfort zone.”

Wilson’s instructor, Pete Ling, accompanied him to Quebec City, supporting him during the competition. Wilson returned the favour by using his fluency in French to assist with taxis and menu translation.