Signing Day Held for Lehigh Valley Career and Technical School Students

By Colin McEvoy on May 17, 2019

More than 120 studnets participated in the SkillsUSA Council's second annual District 11 Signing Day event at DeSales University.

More than 120 studnets participated in the SkillsUSA Council’s second annual District 11 Signing Day event at DeSales University. (photos by Daniel Moyer Photography)

Signing days aren’t only for student athletes.

More than 120 students from around the Lehigh Valley gathered for a signing day on May 10. But they weren’t receiving athletic scholarships. They were graduates from five regional career and technical schools preparing to enter the workforce, military, or post-secondary institutes related to their trades.

The SkillsUSA Council hosted its second annual “District 11 Signing Day” event at DeSales University in Upper Saucon Township.

“Local employers are telling us what they need and they require a steady flow of talent that is trained and ready to maintain operations, with the flexibility to change and grow throughout the 21st century,” said Katie Walter, Executive Director of SkillsUSA Council. “Signing Day is a celebration of students who invested in career and technical education and have chosen to maximize their skilled trade training with an eye on becoming successful and financially secure.”

More than 120 studnets participated in the SkillsUSA Council's second annual District 11 Signing Day event at DeSales University.

More than 120 studnets participated in the SkillsUSA Council’s second annual District 11 Signing Day event at DeSales University. (photos by Daniel Moyer Photography)

Donning red suits and ties, regional students sat at a table with their future employers, educators, and military representatives standing nearby. One-by-one signed documents signifying their future professions and next career steps, as an audience full of family members and friends looked on.

The event recognized 128 career and technical education students, 61 of which have secured full time employment as a direct result of their career and technical education, Walter said.

Another 53 of the students will continue their studies in their skilled trade at a post-secondary institution, she said, while 14 will be serving in the U.S. military.

In just two years, Walter said District 11 Signing Day has become one of SkillsUSA Council’s most inspiring programs, with other career and technical schools from across the country reaching out to ask how they can replicate it in their own districts.

The participating schools included the Bethlehem Area Vocational-Technical School, Career Institute of Technology, Lehigh Career and Technical Institute, Monroe Career & Technical Institution, and Upper Bucks County Technical School.

Karianne Gelinas, LVEDC Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Research, called the SkillsUSA Council signing day an inspiring celebration of career and technical education students reaching success.

“It’s always inspiring to see these students celebrate their achievements alongside their new employers,” Gelinas said. “It’s been exciting to see this event continue to gain momentum and encourage others to seek out the benefits of a career and technical education.”

Workforce Board Lehigh Valley was the title sponsor for the event, with Air Products and Lutron Electronics serving as supporting sponsors.

Promoting and coordinating a skilled and prepared workforce is one of the priorities of LVEDC. The organization’s Education and Talent Supply Council is currently utilizing working groups to develop strategies for addressing and retaining talent, exposing students to career path options, improving employability skills, enhancing internship opportunities, and exploring further talent market research needs.

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.

“SkillsUSA Council is working to be a vital solution to our local economic and workforce challenges,” Walter said. “At a time when opportunity for employment is critical, SkillsUSA Council is working to ensure students attending career and technical schools in Lehigh, Monroe, Northampton, and Upper Bucks counties are equipped with the skills to successfully enter the workforce.”

Students from the signing day are entering into a wide range of industries and areas of study, including welding, culinary arts, business management, construction, accounting, electrical technology, computer science, psychology, web design, mechanical engineering, criminal justice, and more.

Founded in 1985 and recognized by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development for educational excellence, SkillsUSA Council serves more than 5,700 member students and more than 200 instructors in the five career and technical schools.

This diverse talent pipeline covers more than 44 trade, technical, and skilled service occupations, including some STEM-related programs. More than 83 corporations, trade associations, and businesses actively support the work of SkillsUSA Council, Walter said.

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