RABECCA ROGERS – The Corsair
Success is something that comes from knowledge, knowledge comes from education, and education is to be taught at the earliest age possible for success to be achievable. SkillsUSA is a huge provider of education to ensure students have the skills necessary to achieve higher goals in today’s workforce.
SkillsUSA is a nonprofit organization helping teachers, high school, and college students gain knowledge and skill in their desired choice of careers. SkillsUSA helps each student excel in the workforce by starting hands-on education in specific areas of training at an earlier age.
Formally known as VICA (Vocational Industrial Clubs of America), SkillsUSA provides different classes in high schools that focus mainly on higher education and hands on training in certain job fields, and many are even college credit transferrable so that the students can get a head start on their college education as well.
They also have a list of clubs to join for students to get more involved in the training and activities and even hold competitions where skills are put to use so that many kids can get an opportunity to show off their skills to the workforce.
“We want to give these kids a jumpstart on their training in the workforce so that they have plenty of time to decide what career they want in the future,” said Jeff Elliott, Escambia County School District workforce specialist.
SkillsUSA is an organization devoted to teaching and training students in the many careers of the future. They focus mainly on relating academics to real life instances. They use hands-on training in order to help students understand why they need the general academics in high school.
These academies are there for the students to get the education they need in certain job fields without having to go to college. Students apply to these academies to start getting the preparation they need before going on and getting a vocational certificate.
“The reason why the kids are so enthused about our programs is because they are hands-on program. They are applied academics; we’re applying the academics to real life situations. They never have to ask the question ‘why do we have to know this?’ because we are applying the academics to real life situations, and when you do that, the kids know how to use it and why. It’s not just theory to them anymore,” Elliott said.
SkillsUSA does many things for the field of education including providing high schools with career educational classes or academies; they plan events, and even competitions. Skills-USA was also very much a part of the Worlds of Possibilities Expo that was held at Pensacola State College on Feb. 22-23. The expo was held to provide kids with the basic knowledge of the possible careers they might choose from in the future. They wanted to give the students an opportunity to be able to get a jump start on selecting and learning about those careers.
“It’s all about simulating the real world experience for the kids,” Elliott said.
The Pensacola Chamber of Commerce is also very involved with SkillsUSA. According to Vice President of Community Affairs Natalie Prim, they team up together to help students find jobs for later in the future. They focus mainly on the businesses and partner with SkillsUSA to find the talent for those businesses.
“What we do is mainly focus on the businesses that need the talent,” Prim said. ” We work with them to determine the skills they need, what certifications they need, and what skills they’re looking for in order for them to hire the best employees.”
The Chamber is very dedicated to helping SkillsUSA with getting students the job sources they need. They conduct industry round tables, they have an advisory council that meets with education, and they support the career academy with the competitions that they hold. That’s also why the competitions for the academies with SkillsUSA are held.
Tyler Kercher, member of the steering committee, said, “Ultimately these competitions are held for the networking and connections. You have all these vendors coming in at the national level and the kids can meet and can interact with these people who are the best of the best. ”
Scholarships are also a huge part in the SkillsUSA competitions. Those placing in the competition, are given tuition for the students to be able to go to college.
SkillsUSA is mainly a huge partnership between teachers, students, and industries that work together to ensure America has a skilled workforce, and students are well taught and prepared for real life careers.
In consonance with the website, they serve high school and college students who are enrolled in programs preparing them for technical, skilled and service careers.
“It’s the mutual partnership that’s the key to this. It’s not just the students that are benefitting, it’s the businesses that basically do nothing but open up their location and expertise on a subject. When we bring the students to the businesses for the competition they can provide the expertise for the students, run the competition but at the same time meet all of these qualified applicants who might be able to join their team within a year,”Kercher said.
“It’s pretty great when someone who is 16 can show up at an electrical competition and have a job waiting on them in a year when they graduate. ”
SkillsUSA was founded in 1965 and now has around 15 ,000 chapters in 54 state and territorial associations and they serve more than 300,000 members annually. They now have more than 16,000 instructors and members who are working towards making sure America has enough skilled students to begin working in the careers of the future.
SkillsUSA has been very focused on helping these students get a good education for years, and will continue helping students with their futures in the years to come.