Regional SkillsUSA Competition at Market Skills Center

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On Friday, January 19, 2024, I attended the Regional Skills USA Competition at New Market Skills Center (NMSC) in Tumwater, Washington and was able to speak with students about the roofing industry.

The SkillsUSA competition is a series of events that take place, locally, regionally, stateside, and nationally. The challenges are constructed to help students sharpen their abilities in several diverse subjects such as skilled trades and leadership. The competitions are formed and evaluated by industry experts to guarantee that students are learning the practical everyday skills that companies require from entry-level professionals.

At this Regional competition there were five competitors within the Central Region of the program, Cordell Roberts, Sanchez Saloman and Elmer Torres with Aberdeen High School, and Bryce Lehma and Mason Winchel with New Market Skills Center. There were also over 80 students from the construction trades class in attendance to cheer on the competition. Competitors started off with timed evaluations for shoveling gravel, pounding nails, properly carrying wood, and accurately measuring. When that was over, each student focused their attention on their written test. By the end of the exam, stomachs were growling, and they needed a break. After lunch was finished and everyone was full and hydrated, the big build hands-on project awaited them. In the end, all five of them did an amazing job as high school juniors and seniors. First Place: Bryce Lehma, NMSC, Second Place: Cordell Roberts, Aberdeen HS and Third Place Sanchez Saloman, Aberdeen HS. If any of the three winners are not able to attend the state competition in the Spring, the other two competitors may step in their place.

While in attendance, I was able to talk with students about roofing industry careers, answer their questions as well as provide them with RCAW and RCAW member information and swag, which they were happy to take. Becoming more involved in our local schools is very important for the now and the future of the roofing industry. Together need to be assured schools are talking and teaching roofing in their construction classes and inside the school’s career centers. We need to attend school career days, volunteering in shop class or construction trades programs maybe donate extra roofing materials to schools for projects. You can also become a student mentor. Please find your local middle or high school’s Career & Technical Program (CTE) and let them know you’d like to participate and help educate students about the roofing industry. The industry will not grow if we don’t share our knowledge and encouragement with the future generation. To create a future pipeline of roofing professionals we must prepare students now and get them excited about the potential and professionalism within our industry.

The New Market Skills Center’s (NMSC) Construction Trades Program works with high school juniors and seniors, from around Thurston County and currently has 99 students enrolled along with a waiting list that does get tapped into when there is a student that moves on or graduates early. This is a big jump from the days of only having seven to ten students in a class or having to cancel construction programs because of lack of participation. NMSC uses the state’s CorePlus Construction curriculum which allows students to obtain Science, English, and Math credits for attending their program for only two and a half hours per day. Before they started CorePlus, the class was only worth a few extracurricular credits. Once NMSC changed to this curriculum and the credits were more attainable the class has nearly doubled/tripled in size bringing more attention to the construction trades.

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