Every year our local skill vocational and trade schools hold a Job Skills USA competition. Students give presentations on a skill they have learned in their classes. I judge the competition every chance I get because it’s a learning opportunity for me. Today was that day.
We are the second level so the competitors we see have already won at their local schools. The winners from this round will go on to the state competition. We judge just about everything – culinary skills (our favorite because sometimes the judges get to taste the product), construction skills, mechanics, electrical stuff, cosmetology.
The participants are sincere and dedicated. Here are my favorite things about the competition:
- They dress neatly. There are no pants hanging below their ass. Even if they are demonstrating construction projects, they have neat, clean work clothes on. That already impresses me.
- They know their stuff. This year I learned about pipe crimping tools for copper plumbing without soldering (really cool!), corsages and boutonnières, solar ovens, pressurized air tanks for firefighters, installing car stereo systems and more. Someone even did a dance class for line dancing.
- These kids give me a good feeling about life. There are young kids learning plumbing, electrical and other important skills. Sometimes we focus so hard on the “college” angle. We forget that as a society we need skills that don’t get done in an office. These jobs can pay better than what some of the college kids earn, especially when they can’t get a job in their field.
- I get to spend time with my Toastmaster buddies. (Super thanks to Joe Endy for inviting me each year!)
We judge their knowledge (do they know how to do it and do it well) and presentation skills (can they explain their skills well enough so an average person can “get it”). Some of them create elaborate displays. Some of them are funny and some are so nervous you want to put your arms around them and tell them it’s ok. The saddest part is that only one person can win. They are all so deserving. If you get a chance to be involved in this, grab that brass ring.