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Lehigh Valley Students Display Their Skills at SkillsUSA Competition

By Colin McEvoy on February 7, 2020

More than 300 students participated in the District 11 SkillsUSA Championships at the Agricultural Hall in Allentown on Jan. 29.

More than 300 students from career and technical schools in Lehigh Valley and the surrounding areas participated in the recent District 11 SkillsUSA Championships, demonstrating their abilities in 32 skilled trade competitions.

The SkillsUSA Council is committed to creating a world-class workforce through professional development of local career and technical education students and partnerships with the local business community, to support local economic and community growth in the Greater Lehigh Valley.

“Your amazing industry partnerships as evidenced by the size of the selections today have long been a model for SkillsUSA programs across the nation as the right way to build meaningful relationships in a region support both education and industry needs,” SkillsUSA National Executive Director Chelle Travis said during the District 11 championships, which were held Jan. 29 at the Agricultural Hall in Allentown.

Winners from the regional competition will participate in the Pennsylvania SkillsUSA Championships in April. The Lehigh Valley contest is one of the largest regional championships in the nation, according to Travis.

“You should be extremely proud of the work that you do here today,” she said.

The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) was a sponsor for the event and has been a long-time supporter of SkillsUSA, which aligns with LVEDC’s efforts with educational institutions and employers to ensure Lehigh Valley maintains a competitive workforce and talent supply.

“LVEDC is committed to filling the talent gaps in the workforce and matching talent supply and demand,” said Karianne Gelinas, LVEDC Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Research. “An important component is the important work SkillsUSA does improving the quality of the nation’s skilled workforce by teaching technical, personal, and workplace skills.”

Categories in the competition included electrical construction wiring, automotive service technologies, criminal justice, culinary arts, nurse assisting, and much more.

The LVEDC Education and Talent Supply Council has been focused on creating and executing regional strategies to improve the region’s talent pipeline. Among its priorities for this year are an updated talent supply study, and a survey of alumni of regional colleges and universities to understand their career-related priorities and perceptions of Lehigh Valley.

Travis said SkillsUSA graduates more than 100,000 career-ready students each year, and offers nearly 10,000 contests annually like the Lehigh Valley event, all of which lead up to the national level.

“Nationally, we often hear about the mismatch between the talent pool and the jobs that need to be filled,” Travis said. We are doing our part to improve our skills and narrow the skills gap, year by year.”

The Bethlehem Area Vocational-Technical School, and the Lehigh Career & Technical Institute in North Whitehall Township each had 41 competitors win medals at the competition across nearly three dozen contest categories. BAVTS had 20 students win first place medals, while LCTI had 14.

Additionally, the Career Institute of Technology in Forks Township had 22 students win medals across 19 different categories, and six of them won first place, according to the SkillsUSA Council.

Among the categories were basic health care, automotive service technologies, crime scene investigation, criminal justice, culinary arts, fire fighting, nurse assisting, electrical construction wiring, plumbing, and much more.

“To me, SkillsUSA is a perfect display of a student’s path to success,” said Ayodeji Aderin, studying electronics technology at Monroe Career and Technical Institute. “I instantly fell in love with the organization, and promised myself to participate in anything and everything SkillsUSA-related.”

SkillsUSA’s District 11 includes students from Lehigh, Northampton, Monroe, and Upper Bucks counties. The Upper Bucks County Technical School competed in the event, along with the aforementioned schools.

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