Teaching Students Life Skills

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Sponsor Focus

By Jenny Faubert

Graduating Girls

Looking back, could you have used some extra motivation in school? Maybe you weren’t challenged enough and lost interest. Now your goal is to prepare and motivate students to be the best they can be. Are you struggling to do this? Need help?

SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit organization of students, teachers and industry, working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA helps high school and college students enrolled in career and technical education programs to excel by teaching employability skills such as communication, problem solving, and leadership in conjunction with their trade, technical and service occupations skills.

SkillsUSA holds chapter meetings that teach teamwork, build character and develop leadership skills. While there must be an advisor, students should run each chapter. The goal is for each member to participate and not leave anyone out. Elected officers set the tone of the chapter while learning basic organizational and supervisory skills. Chapters focus on areas such as professional development, community service, employment, preparation for the SkillsUSA Championships, public relations and social activities.

Every year more than 10,000 talented students and their high schools counselors gather together at the annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference and SkillsUSA Championships held in Kansas City, Missouri. But getting there isn’t easy. It all starts with contests in the classroom and advancing to the state competition, only the best of the best are chosen to compete at the SkillsUSA Championships, where only the first place high school and postsecondary college winners from each state compete.

Last year I was there to witness this event. During the opening ceremony, in a sea of red jackets (a SkillsUSA trademark), there were students from many different trade areas–i.e., cosmetology, automotive, culinary, precision machining and masonry. And, during the two days of competition, their skills became apparent.

Begun in 1967, the SkillsUSA Championships has grown from 54 competitors in three contests to more than 5,000 competitors in 91 hands-on skill and leadership contests this year. One hundred and thirty different occupational areas are represented by SkillsUSA–affiliated instructional programs.

SkillsUSA emphasizes high ethical standards, superior work skills, and lifelong education, all qualities employers’ value. If you are interested in teaching your students these qualities–plus much more–check out SkillsUSA, by visiting www.skillsusa.org.