Students, advisers and industry leaders working together to build technical training and leadership skills to meet the growing demand for a talented workforce. This is what SkillsUSA is all about, and the program at Dickinson High School wants to share that knowledge with the local community.
Over the past 16 years, Scott Schmidt has been taking students to state and national conferences for the Dickinson High School SkillsUSA program. Local students involved in SkillsUSA should benefit once they are ready to enter their industries but are wanting to make local business aware of their presence.
“I have had students attend state and national conventions almost every year in carpentry and building trades,” Schmidt said. “We have six programs in our school including, construction, welding, drafting, automotive, power sports and health career,”
According to Schmidt, they have about 30 students this year involved in the program. Marjorie Lehman, another instructor and advisor for the programs spoke highly of their students and their talents.
“This last spring, we had state winners in power equipment and architecture drafting and those students went on to nationals and we placed second in power equipment and 19th in architectural drafting,” Lehman said. “We are looking to get that support at the state level. We are working with partnering with industrys to raise awareness of what SkillsUSA is so they can find employees within the young talent we can offer them.”
SkillsUSA week was this week and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum designated February as Career and Technical Education month. Earlier this week, state Sen. Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, suggested that part of the state’s Legacy Fund could be used for career and technical education across the state. This could be an answer for Dickinson High School to grow their SkillsUSA program and to offer their students more categories to learn and compete in.
Dickinson students spoke proudly of the skills that they are learning. From the technical such as computer programing to values in leadership with the roles they get to uphold. Hailey Enney, president of SkillsUSA program at Dickinson High School, spoke of the work they are trying to do with making the industry more aware of Dickinson’s SkillsUSA. She will be competing in the job demo this year at the state conference.
“I took two years of drafting and this is my first year in construction,” Enney said. “So I'm learning both the drafting side and seeing the floor plans but also now putting that all together with the construction side, which will all be important with the industry part of it.”
Enney spoke of how important the leadership part is as well, which has prepared her to speak in front of a large audience and to lead with confidence and personal skills.
“I am also one of the state officers this year and we have been working really hard to make the industry aware of SkillsUSA and I think we are doing a great job,” Enney said. “ The state conference this year is at Bismarck State College and we have all the competitions. … We actually have more competitions there than what our school offers.”
Jarrid Kostelecky also was very proud of all that he has learned and accomplished through SkillsUSA and is competing this year in welding.
“I've been in SkillsUSA for about two years now and have learned a lot about leadership, construction, welding, drafting and floorplanning. My freshman year, I barely knew how to run a computer, so I've come a long way because of Skills(USA),” Kostelecky said. “I feel that this will benefit me when continuing my education, the experience I have gained could possibly attract schools who would want me.”
A newer member of SkillsUSA is Kaia Lehman, who is part of the health career section of the program, is technically part of the Roughrider Area Career and Technical Center chapter in Mandan and has obtained the position of the chapter secretary. She has learned how to check vital signs, understand charts and other medical skills.
This year, Lehman will be competing in two categories at the state competition.
“I wouldn’t have learned that if I wasn't in SkillsUSA,” Lehman said. “I have never really competed at a state conference so it … will be interesting, that is for sure.”
Schmidt said he feels that it is their duty to make sure local businesses and others are aware of their program.
“The fact that SkillsUSA is basically the student organization for trade and industry program at high schools and there is a lot of ways that industry can help students such as connecting them with future employers, so there are any business partners who would like to have more information, they should contact the high schools and ask about SkillsUSA.“ Schmidt said. “Our focus this year is to raise the awareness in the community of what SkillsUSA is… We really want people to see the opportunities this is giving our students and if there are people willing to help, we could use their help.”