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SkillsUSA competitions help Eastside, Southside students recognize real-world value


The SkillsUSA regional competition included some three dozen categories such as Auto Service Tech and Diesel Equipment Technology. (Photo from FCPS)

The SkillsUSA regional competition included some three dozen categories such as Auto Service Tech and Diesel Equipment Technology. (Photo from FCPS)

 
High school senior Cory Townsend has been thinking seriously about a career for more than three years now as a member of Eastside Tech’s SkillsUSA club in Lexington. He just competed in the 2014 North Central Region competition for the learning experience and added help to his resumé.
 
“When you go to a job in an industry and they see SkillsUSA on your resume, they know you’ve got background,” Townsend said. “And when they see you’ve competed, they know you’ve tried and you’re learning.”
 
Potential employers as well as technical colleges all pay attention to the high school students performing in the SkillsUSA competition, Eastside Tech club advisor Chelsea Mobley said. “First or second place shows they’re ambitious and ready to work.”
 
Answering the judges’ challenge in some three dozen events, students at Eastside demonstrated firefighting tools and de-bugged diesel engine equipment while counterparts at Southside Tech put forth their best efforts in masonry and commercial baking. Students also presented other workforce skills through extemporaneous speaking, job interview contests and the like.
 
Students benefit from the judges’ positive feedback and constructive criticism. “They really enjoy knowing they’re recognized for their skills,” Mobley said. “People want to know ‘This skill I have is valuable in the real world.’”
 
While SkillsUSA also offers a social outlet for students with common interests and opportunities to visit other campuses, the leadership component ensures they will be well-rounded employees down the line.
 

SkillsUSA club advisor Chelsea Mobley, left, helps one of her students with skill sets. (Photo from FCPS)

SkillsUSA club advisor Chelsea Mobley, left, helps one of her students with skill sets. (Photo from FCPS)

“They’re not only practicing technical skills they learned in class but also leadership and business skills … and how they can relate to others,” Mobley explained. “It has to do with speaking, customer service and writing skills, which shows what they’re capable of beyond their technical education.”
 
Regular interaction with professionals through the nationwide organization keeps the students sharp. “One of the big points is networking,” she said. “There are a lot of partnerships and a chance to set themselves up with jobs and internships.”
 
For instance, the judges for First Aid/CPR and Firefighting were from the Lexington Division of Fire and Emergency Services. Lt. Gerald Evans stressed how such classes and contests can broaden awareness among young people.
 
“It helps with understanding the complexity of our job. And it’s all based on safety – that’s the bottom line,” Evans said. “Anything that is performance-related raises the level of understanding because that’s when you’re put to the real test. Competition is healthy. Hopefully, the students have fun and learn they can work together on and off the scene.”
 
About 380 SkillsUSA members from 10 technical centers squared off in the 2014 North Central Region competition March 7 at Eastside and Southside and at Bluegrass Community & Technical College. High school students finishing first, second and third could qualify for state, depending on the category. Starting this year, students must have met an acceptable standard to advance, and the regional showing counted for 65 percent of their overall points.
 
From Fayette Co. Public Schools


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