WorldSkills competition provides unforgettable experiences for RDC alum
Taylor McCallum can compete on the world stage, as he demonstrated this August at WorldSkills Kazan. The RDC graduate was a member of Team Canada, and he was one of 32 Canadian champions who competed at the three-day event in Russia.
“Representing Canada was such a surreal experience, and I still can’t believe I got to represent my country!” he said after the event. “Having so many people watch and look up to every single one of us was so amazing, and it was hands-down one of the best things I have ever been a part of.”
The 45th annual WorldSkills competition was an elite event featuring skills excellence, with 1,300 competitors from more than 60 countries around the globe and an estimated 250,000 visitors in attendance. With 56 competition areas, McCallum represented Canada in the Plumbing category.
Over three days of competition, he completed a variety of challenges, including installing a hydronic heating system, as well as a towel bar that he designed, installing drainage and water lines, and completing two different speed challenges.
“One of the main strengths Taylor had in competing was that he didn’t stress over the competition. He was able to focus and just do what he had to, rather than worrying about what the other competitors were doing,” said RDC Plumbing instructor, Lee Hallett, who was McCallum’s coach leading up to the event. “Throughout his training, he really grew in his ability to trust himself and his work – he was able to do what needed to be done and keep moving forward through it all.”
McCallum developed these qualities over the span of several years, as he expanded his plumbing knowledge and became familiar with Skills competitions. In 2017, he finished fourth in the Skills Canada Alberta provincial competition; the following year, he earned gold at the same event. At the 2018 Skills Canada National Competition, his performance led to him being named a Team Canada Prospect for WorldSkills Kazan. Over the next year, he practiced and trained almost weekly – despite being a full-time apprentice – and his commitment paid off when he won the head-to-head competition and earned his spot on Team Canada.
“Winning the selection event in Halifax in May was a major highlight for me, and it was so nice that all the long hours of training actually paid off,” he said. “It meant so much to see how happy my trainer, Lee, was when we found out, along with my family, girlfriend, boss, and all of the other supporters who were there with me. This was probably the best part leading up to Worlds.”
McCallum’s achievements at WorldSkills go beyond his expertise and skill, as he was able to join his fellow competitors to work on a sustainability project for an orphanage on the last day of the event. They collaborated to create new working washrooms for a local orphanage, providing a valuable opportunity to give back to the local community.
“This project really brought all of the competitors together despite coming from different countries. Even with the language barriers, you could still manage to understand and help each other,” he said. “It meant a great deal for me to be a part of something like this that will change the lives of those young kids at the orphanage for the better. It makes me feel like I am making a difference with what I do.”
For Joel Gingrich, Dean of RDC’s School of Trades and Technologies, the types of experiences that McCallum had at WorldSkills “are motivational for our current apprentices and inspirational for those considering a career in trades,” he said. “We are extremely proud of Taylor for how he represented Canada, Alberta and RDC.”
Gingrich notes that having central Alberta apprentices compete at an international level is a tremendous testament to the quality of the instructional experience they receive both at RDC and with their local employers. Plus, the experience can have a lasting impact on their lives. “Competing at this level builds an appreciation of and familiarity with the breadth of their trade and the technology applied in other parts of the world,” he said. “The experience not only builds confidence in their own ability as professional trades people, but it also creates a vision for how comprehensive and global their trade business could become.”
Photo: Taylor McCallum competing at WorldSkills Kazan in August 2019. Photo courtesy Skills Canada Alberta.
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Communications Strategist – Corporate
Communications Strategist – Corporate