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It’s that time of year yet again. The SkillsUSA statewide conference will be held at the Hotel Elegante in Colorado Springs from April 18th to April 20th. Pickens Technical College always sends a large contingent of skilled students to compete at both the state and national levels of the SkillsUSA challenge.

SkillsUSA is a nationwide partnership of industry workers, teachers, and students collaborating to make the American workforce more skilled. Through its development of “Framework” skills, SkillsUSA works to improve the quality of the US’s future skilled workforce, focusing on manufacturing, engineering, human service jobs like cosmetology, and more. SkillsUSA holds national competitions in career skills every year, and each state determines its champions to compete on the national level.

Last year, students from PTC’s Cosmetology department performed well at the national competitions, as well as students from several other PTC departments. This year will offer several more competitors in the SkillsUSA contests. These competitions test students’ aptitude in different tasks centered on their skill of choice. These tests are highly competitive and intense, and winning recognition is very difficult in this setting.

SkillsUSA’s Framework gives competitors and students a common language for students to explain what they have gained from SkillsUSA participation so they can share their experiences with possible employers, school administrators, parents, and other students. The Framework also assesses the progression of skill development for students in a learning continuum of awareness, demonstration, and mastery. It also sets a clear vision for all SkillsUSA programs at local, state, and national levels, ensuring effective, student-led experiences that build skills and confidence. This approach helps students achieve career success in their chosen fields, in part by delivering an in-demand skill set that will set them apart from their peers when they’re looking for jobs. Every student member gets a consistent and specific skillset.

Aside from the skills and the competitions themselves, SkillsUSA also strives to work between industry leaders, teachers, and students to provide employability and leadership training—skills that are useful in any field at any time. Right now, a workforce gap is widening between employers and the skills they need from the workforce. More would-be employees are pursuing other careers and skills besides technical training in industries like manufacturing and engineering. Perhaps the most important mission of SkillsUSA is to encourage more young people to pursue these skills and vocations by offering employment training and competition.

PTC has partnered with SkillsUSA for years and is actively engaged in the community to give students opportunities to hone their skills and widen their futures after graduation. SkillsUSA competitors get a sense of how to use their skills in an exciting event while learning the other skills they need to get a job in their field of choice. For this year’s competition, the students and teachers are fired up once again to represent PTC on the state and hopefully the national level. Wish the competitors luck this year!