Local students honored at SkillsUSA Championships

By Jane A. Deshong Short….
Two local students from high school and college technical education programs were among winners of the nation’s highest awards during the recent SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference.

The following area students received both medallions and Skill Point Certificates:
Pedro Crespo, from Homestead and a student at Robert Morgan Educational Center, was awarded the college/postsecondary silver medal in Major Appliance & Refrigeration Technology.

Raciel Ramirez, from Miami and a student at Robert Morgan Educational Center, was awarded the high school silver medal in Major Appliance & Refrigeration Technology.

Industry leaders representing more than 1,100 businesses, corporations, trade associations and unions recognized the students for their demonstrated excellence in 94 hands-on occupational and leadership contests such as robotics, criminal justice, aviation maintenance and public speaking. All contests are designed, run and judged by industry using industry standards. The SkillsUSA Championships have been a premier event since 1967.

Top student winners received gold, silver and bronze medallions. Many also received prizes such as tools of their trade and/or scholarships to further their careers and education. The SkillsUSA Championships is for high school and college level students who are members of SkillsUSA.

In addition, for the fifth year, high scorers in the contests received Skill Point Certificates. The Skill Point Certificate was awarded in 86 occupational and leadership areas to students who achieved a high score defined by industry. The Skill Point Certificates were introduced in 2007 as a component of the SkillsUSA Work Force Ready System.

“Over 5,600 students from every state in the nation came to compete in the SkillsUSA Championships this week,” said Tim Lawrence, SkillsUSA executive director. “This is the SkillsUSA partnership at its best.

“Students, instructors and industries are working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce and every student excels. These students prove that career and technical education expands opportunities.”

According to Lawrence, recent survey data says that 75 percent of these students will go on to higher education. Included in that number are 40 percent who will be attending college and working at the same time. Of those graduating from school, 76 percent plan to work in the field for which they have trained.

“They’re the employees industry wants to hire and promote,” Lawrence said.

Industry support of the SkillsUSA Championships is valued at more than $35 million in donated time, equipment, cash and material. All contests are run and judged by industry experts using industry standards for employment. Contests assess hands-on, employability and academic skills.

Over 1,700 industry judges and technical committee members participated this year.

The SkillsUSA Work Force Ready System was developed as an extension of the SkillsUSA mission and supported by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The system recognizes students for excellence in occupational training; it assesses and documents the entry-level technical proficiency and cumulative experiences of candidates.

For more information about the SkillsUSA Work Force Ready System, visit online at www.workforcereadysystem.com. For more information about SkillsUSA, visit online at www.skillsusa.org.

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