Top career and tech students show off skills

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Top career and tech students show off skills

Voice: May 2017

It’s not a sport, but for career and technical education students, the concept and the quality and intensity of competition are just the same.

And like PIAA sports, it culminates in “state championships” under the auspices of SkillsUSA Pennsylvania, which in April hosted 1,700 students from all career and tech ed fields at its statewide competition in Lebanon and Hershey. The students advanced to the state competition by winning local and district competitions.

Gov. Tom Wolf spoke at the awards ceremony, congratulating the student competitors and emphasizing the importance of career and technical education in Pennsylvania.

“The competition is a way of allowing students at the local level to show off and display their talents,” said David Namey, president of PSEA’s Department of Career and Technical Studies, and a teacher at the Wilkes-Barre Area Career and Technical Center. “At the local level, there is a lot of talent and it just gets better through the districts. Then you get the cream of the crop by the time you get to states.”

Although there are organizations for students in their specific career fields – i.e., FFA for students in agricultural fields of study – Namey notes that SkillsUSA Pennsylvania is the only one that is focused on all career and tech ed fields.

This year’s event, the 50th for SkillsUSA Pennsylvania, featured 32 competitive categories ranging from auto mechanics to web design. State winners advance to SkillsUSA’s national competition in June in Louisville, Kentucky.

Namey has been to the nationals with students three times, including a national gold medal winner in 2008.

In addition to providing a great opportunity for students, he said SkillsUSA Pennsylvania has developed model guidelines for personal attributes like leadership, trade ethics, and workmanship standards that career and tech ed teachers work into their classes.

“They need to know what is expected of them when they move on from high school,” Namey said.

Now, PSEA’s Department of Career and Technical Studies and Namey are pushing for more legislators to be aware of what is going on in this area of public education.

He said there has been no increase in funding for the career and tech ed aspect of state public school funding for 10 years.

“We need our legislators to take notice of the kinds of students that career and technical education produce in Pennsylvania,” Namey said. “There are great success stories to tell.”