By Thomas Holdsworth
Special to The SUN
Students from Colorado high school and college technical education programs won the nation’s highest awards at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference. Industry leaders representing over 1,100 businesses, corporations, trade associations and unions recognized the students for their demonstrated excellence in 98 hands-on occupational and leadership contests, such as robotics, criminal justice, aviation maintenance and public speaking. All contests are designed, run and judged by industry using industry standards.
Top student winners received gold, silver and bronze medallions. Many also received prizes such as tools of their trade and/or scholarships to further their careers and education. The SkillsUSA Championships is for high school and college-level students who are members of SkillsUSA.
In addition, high scorers in the contests received Skill Point Certificates. The Skill Point Certificate was awarded in 86 occupational and leadership areas to students who achieved a high score defined by industry. The SkillsUSA Championships have been a premier event since 1967. The Skill Point Certificates were introduced in 2009 as a component of the SkillsUSA Work Force Ready System.
Isaiah Thompson, a student at Pagosa Springs High School, was awarded a Skill Point Certificate in Computer Programming.
“Over 6,000 students from every state in the nation came to compete in the SkillsUSA Championships this week,” said SkillsUSA Executive Director Tim Lawrence. “This is the SkillsUSA partnership at its best. Students, instructors and industries are working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce and every student excels. These students prove that career and technical education expands opportunities.”
According to the U.S. Department of Education, students who take three or more career and technical education (CTE) programs in high school are more likely to attend college and stay there to graduate. In fact, 79 percent of CTE concentrators enrolled in postsecondary education within two years of high school graduation. And, students in CTE programs have a higher-than-average high school graduation rate. Research has shown the average high school graduation rate for students concentrating in CTE programs is 90 percent compared to an average national freshman graduation rate of 74.9 percent.
Industry support of the SkillsUSA Championships is valued at over $36 million in donated time, equipment, cash and material. All contests are run and judged by industry experts using industry standards for employment. Contests assess hands-on, employability and academic skills.
Over 1,700 industry judges and technical committee members participated this year.
The SkillsUSA Work Force Ready System was developed as an extension of the SkillsUSA mission and supported by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The system recognizes students for excellence in occupational training; it assesses and documents the entry-level technical proficiency and cumulative experiences of candidates. For more information about the SkillsUSA Work Force Ready System, visit www.workforcereadysystem.com.
SkillsUSA helps students discover and grow their career passions. As a nationwide partnership of students, instructors and industry working together, SkillsUSA works to ensure America has a skilled workforce. It helps every student excel. The nationwide career and technical education (CTE) student organization serves more than 300,000 high school, college and postsecondary students and their instructors in technical, skilled, and service occupation instructional programs. CTE is learning that works for America. SkillsUSA has the active support of more than 1,100 corporations, trade associations, business and labor unions at the national level. Over 11.2 million people have been annual members of SkillsUSA since its founding as The Vocational Industrial Clubs of America in 1965. SkillsUSA programs teach leadership, citizenship and character development to complement technical skill training. The organization emphasizes respect for the dignity of work, ethics, workmanship, scholarship and safety. For more information, contact www.skillsusa.org.