“We need young people that are engaged in the trades, excited about the trades, have passion about the trades and the professions that we serve to enter that talent pipeline,” Lawrence says.
SkillsUSA makes employment a priority for students by treating the NLSC as a giant job fair. Each student must bring a résumé and meet with employers who are looking to recruit talent from the competition floor.
While many SkillsUSA students compete in the more than 100 events as individuals, the event’s TeamWorks contest tests the combined abilities of trades students representing four aspects of construction: carpentry, masonry, plumbing and electrical work. In only 16 hours, all teams must plan, present and build the same structure from blueprints provided by SkillsUSA.
The pressures of time and competition are intended to bring out the best qualities in teams, such as the Georgia Northwestern Technical College squad from Calhoun, Ga. WorkingNation’s filmmakers followed them during TeamWorks 2018 and discovered what makes this particular SkillsUSA competition special. If the national conference is like a small city, then TeamWorks reflects the spirit that holds it together.
According to SkillsUSA Board Member Jim Bohn, the immense presence of the SkillsUSA Championships can be intimidating. However, one of the most critical aspects of TeamWorks is how it brings out every team’s confidence while performing under the pressure of the deadline.
The timeframe to see a project from blueprint to completion may seem impossible at first glance. TeamWorks contestants work with the newest tools and materials, provided by the more than 30 sponsors of the event, including Bohn’s employer, the Robert Bosch Tool Corp. (View more sponsors here.) Beyond the confidence from working with state-of-the-art equipment, TeamWorks participants draw from their strengths and skills to complete their projects.
“With a teamwork experience, or a teamwork attitude, you can get a lot done, especially a project in a very short period of time, and really show that your skills working together can really accomplish something,” Bohn says.
Although construction-related skills are highly visible at the competition, SkillsUSA cuts across many industries—arts and communication, healthcare, IT, STEM and cosmetology, to name a few. At this year’s competition, more than 1,100 gold, silver and bronze medals, plus more than 530 recognition awards were handed out. Competitors were also recognized with scholarships to continue their education and tools of the trade.