For more than 50 years, SkillsUSA has served students who are training for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations including those entering manufacturing and who will be working in job shops and machine shops across America. The national partnership of education and industry reaches more than 350,000 members each year in 19,000 classrooms within 4,000 schools, serving students and teachers across 130 skilled occupations. SkillsUSA is active in all 50 states plus two U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.
SkillsUSA manages local, state and national technical championships. Nearly 10,000 events are held per year, planned and judged by industry, in trades such as welding, robotics, sheet metal, industrial motor control, engineering, CNC milling and turning and automated manufacturing.
The contests provide recognition to students and set relevant standards for technical education. Just as important, SkillsUSA offers soft skills development, workplace credentials and skill assessments through the SkillsUSA Career Essentials suite of curricula. As a talent pipeline and skills-gap solution, SkillsUSA graduates more than 100,000 students a year who are job-ready.
The Skills Gap is Real
A study of the skills gap from the manufacturing perspective reports that 3.4 million new manufacturing jobs will be available over the next decade, mostly due to retirements. Of those jobs, 2 million will go unfilled due to a lack of qualified applicants. Of 450 companies surveyed by the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte, 78 percent report the skills gap affects their ability to implement new technology and increase productivity.
According to the National Skills Coalition, employers in every state face a shortage of workers to fill middle-skill jobs. Middle-skill jobs require education beyond high school but not a four-year degree and make up the largest part of the U.S. labor market.
Business leaders are seeing these trends affect bottom lines. A recent CareerBuilder survey with the Harris Poll found that 55 percent of employers experienced a negative impact due to job vacancies. In fact, 82 percent say the skills gap affects the ability to meet customer demand. Manufacturing, health care, architecture and engineering, maintenance, repair and customer-service all face worker shortages. The demand for STEM workers is expected to grow by 17 percent through 2018.
Across the board, employers need workers with technical knowledge plus the employability skills that apply to any industry. When surveyed and asked to identify a major employee deficiency, executives said “problem-solving skills.” Basic employability skills remain high on the wish list.
Adding to the nation’s problems is the student-loan debt that undercuts the economic mobility for graduates that higher education once promised. An estimated $1.3 trillion in outstanding loans is owed by 44 million borrowers, with an average individual loan balance of $37,000.
The SkillsUSA Difference: The Framework
Active SkillsUSA involvement accelerates skill development for every student through the SkillsUSA Framework. Framework components include: personal skills (work ethic, professionalism, responsibility and self-motivation); workplace skills (teamwork, communication, decision making and leadership); and technical skills grounded in academics (computer and technology literacy, service orientation, safety and health). This trifecta of student success is validated by multiple research studies.
The Framework builds a foundation for relevant learning and provides common language to help students, parents, teachers, counselors, administrators and industry partners communicate the program’s value. Integral to classroom instruction, the Framework showcases technical skills and connects students to employers. SkillsUSA is a value-driven program within the public career-education system. Combined with free or low-cost degree and certificate programs, a SkillsUSA graduate is a well-rounded individual who exceeds expectations, ready for employment or higher education. The American economy thrives when workers have the education and training needed to fill the jobs of today and tomorrow.
Because of the widening skills gap and our crucial mission to fill the worker pipeline, SkillsUSA is growing faster than ever. Our mission to empowers students to become world-class workers, leaders and responsible American citizens has never been more important. SkillsUSA welcomes participation by any company or organization that wants to help close the skills gap and benchmark U.S. technical training against global standards.