Meet NAIT’s 3 competitors in the world’s top skills competition

Tanner Harbin, Andrik Jacobsen and Dorien Lozeau participate in WorldSkills 2022 as leaders in their fields

Update: Congrats Dorien Lozeau, Car Painter!

On Oct. 22, Auto Body Technician grad Dorien Lozeau earned two medals for his performance at WorldSkills 2022 in Denmark. Check out his pre-competition interview below.

Were there a curtain to pull back on everyday life, it’s easy to imagine finding an esoteric collection of gears, gauges, dials and wires that keep the world as we know it functioning – none of which most of us would know what to do with.

But tradespeople do.

Because of that, electricity continues to flow, food doesn’t spoil, buildings stay standing, furnaces keep running, and on and on.

And it’s all because of sound understandings of math and physics, along with creativity and dexterity, that tend to go unsung.

Except at Worldskills, that is.

Every two years, young apprentices and vocational students from around the globe gather to compete for the title of the best in their fields.

It’s not just about stepping out from behind that curtain; it’s about striding into the spotlight of the world stage.

This October, three NAIT apprentices, as previous medalists in Canadian and regional skills competitions, will be among them, competing in countries across Europe after this year’s event was relocated from Shanghai, China due to COVID-19.

Before they left, we talked to Tanner Harbin, competing in refrigeration and air conditioning, Dorien Lozeau, in car painting, and Andrik Jacobson, in cabinet making, about what it takes to get to what’s often called the Olympics of the trades, and where they hope it might take them in the future.




Tanner Harbin, Second-year Apprentice

tyler harbin, NAIT HVAC apprentice and worldskills 2022 competitor

Trade: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic
Employer: Skyline Refrigeration
Hometown: Lloydminster, Saskatchewan
Age: 21
Competition site: Nuremberg, Germany

Congratulations on making it to WorldSkills. How are you feeling?

It’s pretty nerve-racking. There's lots of preparation for it. It’s a pretty big deal.

Why is it important to you to do it?

It's pretty cool, just because out of so many kids, I was one of the ones that got picked to go. I've made it this far.

What does it tell you about your accomplishments in the trade so far?

It tells me that I'm pretty good at what I do. I'll need to freshen up on some stuff and practise, but I'd say that I have a fairly good idea about what's going on.

WorldSkills has involved a lot of training for you. What’s that been like?

Yeah, [in addition to] everyday at work, I've got over 40 hours of training with instructor Justin Evernden. I've been practising bending copper and doing projects over that we did in Vancouver and Edmonton for past Skills events.

"Out of so many kids, I was one of the ones that got picked to go. I've made it this far."

For a layman like me, what would you say is the most common problem with refrigeration equipment?

Poor maintenance – stuff being dirty. It could be your condenser coil that's outside getting rid of the heat, or your evaporator coil inside, picking up the heat. If one of those is dirty, it will not work properly because there's nowhere for the air to go. So it’s [under] high pressure constantly. If [the system] runs on too high a pressure, it could develop leaks. There are many different things that could happen from poor maintenance.

This will be your last Skills competition of any kind. Any hopes for the impact it might have on your career?

I'm just keeping every door open right now. I won’t say no to anything but I won’t say yes either. I know that Canadian trades get looked at very highly around the world. You could go anywhere. I could end up across the world. Right now, I’m fairly happy with where I am.

Andrik Jacobsen, Third-year Apprentice

cabinet maker andrik jacobsen, worldskills 2022 competitor

Trade: Cabinetmaker
Employer: FRP Productivity
Hometown: Sherwood Park, Alberta
Age: 21
Competition site: Basel, Switzerland

Why are you in this trade?

I like cabinetmaking because it allows me to build very beautiful pieces with a high degree of accuracy. Everything I do is very finicky, very highly detailed. When I was looking into other careers – engineering and stuff like that – it was a lot of digital work where you don't get to actually see a physical object. I really like having something in front of me that I can look at and say that I built.

What are your thoughts and feelings leading up to the competition?

Definitely nervous. I've never competed at this high a level before. It's going to be a tough competition, but I think I'm prepared for it.

How has your employer reacted to you being part of this competition?

My boss has been one of the most supportive people I've ever met. It actually blows me away. I had mentioned to him that if I'm going to WorldSkills I'm going to want a lot of time off to train –  September and then pretty much most of October to actually go to the competition. And he was like, “Cool, great, you can have it.”

I've always found that I work best under pressure. And these competitions are about as high pressure as you can get.

Wow! Did he say why?

In his words: it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and who is he to stand in the way of that.

You mentioned that you’re nervous but it also sounds like you enjoy competing.

Competing is one of my favorite things to do. I really enjoy the high-stress environments – I've always found that I work best under pressure. And these competitions are about as high pressure as you can get.

Also, I've spent well over 1,200 hours over the last few years training. [This is an] opportunity to prove yourself as one of the best and get all your training to pay off. As well, all of my training makes me better at my job. It makes me better at what I do every day.

What are your hopes for the competition?

I’ll try my best to come home with a medal. But I'm really curious to see all of the different techniques the other competitors have. They're all from different countries so it's going to be really interesting to see how they solve the same problems that me and my trainers have been working on. There's going to be some techniques that we never even considered.

Dorien Lozeau (Auto Body Technician ’22), Journeyperson

Dorien Lozeau, auto body tech and worldskills 2022 competitor, training at NAIT

Trade: Auto Body Technician
Employer: CSN Black Ace Collision
Hometown: St. Paul, Alberta
Age: 22
Competition site: Silkeborg, Denmark

What attracted you to the trade?

My dad actually was in the trade for about 10 years. He was always doing projects in the garage. I’d go help them in the garage and I just started to get interested in it.

You’ve been training intensively at NAIT for Worldskills. What’s that been like?

Instructor and trainer Cecile Bukmeier (Auto Body Technician ’15) and I have been trying to meet up at least twice a week, do some projects and tasks. She's a really good trainer. I'm pretty comfortable in the trade but there's always those tips and tricks that you pick up along the way. It's been a really good experience.

How are you feeling about the competition?

Really good. It's just a matter of staying cool. Everybody's going to make mistakes. That's just the way it goes when you're under pressure like that. So it’s a matter of moving forward. Keep on truckin’.

During the apprenticeship, you learn all the basics, but with the one-on-one training [for Worldskills], you're getting more depth.

What do you hope to get out of it?

Just the experience of going there and meeting [other people in the trade] is awesome. But all the knowledge you get out of it is great too. During the apprenticeship, you learn all the basics, but with the one-on-one training [for Worldskills], you're getting more depth.

I can’t help but think that competing in WorldSkills will look great on a resumé. Where do you hope this might lead you in your career?

I’m really happy where I’m at and treated well. But eventually I'd like to do my own thing one day and have my own shop. So we'll see what happens. But things have been really good so far.

Competition day

refrigeration expert tanner harbin competing at worldskills 2022

WorldSkills competitors do not know exactly what task they will be asked to accomplish over the course of their multi-day events. They prepare based on what they encountered in events at the provincial and national skills competitions, and work to perfect their techniques within a time limit.

“You never know what they’ll throw in there,” says Dorien Lozeau. Competing in car painting, he knows he could face design work, polishing and, of course, painting. Tanner Harbin could be working on a cooler or fixing an air conditioning unit. Cabinetmaker Adrik Jacobsen might see drawings packed with details and variations he may not have seen before.

In each case, competitors will be subject to a time limit in which to get the work done that they hope will prove them to be the best in their field.

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