Career and technical education (CTE) programs are the key to educating tomorrow’s workforce and preparing students for their future careers. In addition to CTE programs, career and technical student organizations (CTSO’s) play an integral part in the success of CTE students looking to further their academic, technical, and soft skills as they become desirable candidates for employment. CareerSafe values the opportunities to build relationships with exceptional organizations that share the same ideals. This month we are highlighting SkillsUSA and the many opportunities members have to further their careers and develop as leaders. SkillsUSA’s mission – “to empower our members to become world-class workers, leaders, and responsible American citizens” – illustrates the continuous effort the organization puts toward the success of their members. This year, SkillsUSA is celebrating 50 years of success. The organizations success is captured by their notable milestones and the ongoing efforts to bring attention to the future of CTE.
It is estimated that 83% of companies report a moderate to serious shortage of skilled workers. SkillsUSA encompasses 130 occupational programs including construction, engineering, consumer sciences, and multiple health occupations while also representing one quarter of the jobs offered by the U.S. economy. Through state and national competitions, SkillsUSA students are able to demonstrate their skills to key industry leaders. Because of these events, students are able to enter the workforce with an edge – “the technical ability to hit the ground running and the leadership ability to keep that ground steady.” SkillsUSA recognizes the growing skills gap threatening America’s economy in the upcoming years and is dedicated to help close this gap.
During this time, SkillsUSA has constructed a nationwide network consisting of educators, students, and industry leaders serving nearly 12 million members in all 50 states and four U.S. territories. With a network of partnerships comprised of more than 1,100 industry professionals – corporations, trade associations, and business and labor unions – a foundation has been set for student success. Members gain long-standing connections that help advance them in their future careers.
Along with a nationwide network, community service is an attribute gained by SkillsUSA members. Every year, state chapters complete thousands of community service and volunteer activities to give back to their local communities. Students develop, plan, and execute community service projects under the guidance of their peers and educators receiving effective hands-on training from inception of a project to the end. The culmination of their service work comes to a head with the National Week of Service, May 3-9, which brings attention to the importance of CTE and its value for the community.
SkillsUSA is a career and technical organization that is a valuable resource for CTE students. High school graduation rates for CTE students are exceptionally higher and that is true for SkillsUSA members as well. A survey of 1,200 SkillsUSA advisors in 2010 reported a 98% graduation rate for their high school members. CTSOs give students a place to feel welcome and inspired by others who possess similar interests. Surrounded by people with the same ambition to succeed can only motivate individual students to pursue great things. The longevity of CTSOs that educate students on more than just technical training is apparent with the success SkillsUSA has had for the last 50 years.
Mike Rowe said it best “SkillsUSA is the connective tissue between the opportunities that exist and the hopes that a lot of parents and kids have for their own future. They’re actually moving the needle in a way that nobody else is.”
CareerSafe encourages educators to congratulate SkillsUSA advisors on their students’ success and learn more about this exceptional organization at www.skillsusa.org.