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Celebrating Skilled Futures

SkillsUSA’s National Signing Day Creates New Opportunities for Students.
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Photo by Scott Price.

SkillsUSA National Signing Day made a media splash nationwide on May 5 as over 1,000 students in 33 states signed a pledge to continue their studies or embark on a path in a skilled trades career. For the SkillsUSA members and their instructors, school administrators and parents who witnessed the events, the day contained all the celebratory elements of a graduation or athletic signing day with signs, banners, balloons, music, speeches and lots of photos to commemorate the important moments.

Amplifying the excitement at each signing location was a coordinated social media push across every channel and state by SkillsUSA, state associations and schools to highlight individual students and share event photos, congratulations from industry partners and guest speakers.

Mike Rowe speaks at CTECH. Photo by Scott Price.

In Hobbs, New Mexico, a notable TV personality even made an appearance, keeping a promise he made several years ago when construction began on the sparkling new Career and Technical Education Center (CTECH) at Hobbs High School. Mike Rowe of TV’s Dirty Jobs and Deadliest Catch fame came to salute SkillsUSA and celebrate the grand opening of the new technology campus. The well-known author, podcaster, Facebook creator and TV news commentator highlighted the ongoing need for a skilled workforce and said he promised several years back that if the school was built, he would be here for the opening. Keeping his commitment, the honest and comedic wit highlighted the construction journey for the stunning new school.

As only he can do so very well, Rowe debunked myths and misperceptions about the trades and shared some surprising facts about the current state of the skilled trades in America. He noted that over 11 million jobs are vacant in the United States currently and acknowledged that schools like CTECH can be effective to help fill those positions. Rowe also shared some moments from his time filming popular shows “Dirty Jobs” and “Deadliest Catch” on the Discovery Channel, where for years he has enjoyed opening the eyes of TV viewers in terms of why these trades jobs are needed to support communities and keep things moving.

“The Hobbs community has put back an undeniable example of what opportunity can look like in the skilled trades,” said Mike Rowe. “This is a template for the rest of the country. It’s proof positive that communities can come together with concerned individuals and corporate members who care and want to roll up their sleeves to make a difference.”

—   Skilled trades hero Mike Rowe, TV star, author and podcaster
Photo by Scott Price.

Celebrating Skills

At CTECH, 13 students signed their letters of intent during the grand opening of the new building. Many of the students signed to familiar programs like UTI (United Technical Institute) and Wichita State University (WSU Tech) to continue training and education for their careers. Hundreds of family, friends, staff and community members joined together in the skywalk of the new state-of-the-art building to celebrate their futures.

Chelle Travis speaks at CTECH. Photo by Scott Price.

The new CTECH center will house over 500 students in its first year with room to grow,  offering programs ranging from Energy, Manufacturing, Culinary and Hospitality to Transportation, Information Technology and Construction Architecture. The $60 million dollar facility is located right on the Hobbs High School campus, giving students the opportunity to walk to their CTE program instead of commuting from school to school. It also gives other students a front-row seat to easily explore the trades before ever enrolling. Stakeholders including the SkillsUSA state officer team, community partners and other staff members then took part in the ribbon cutting ceremony in front of each loading bay in the solar panel covered atrium where the grand opening took place.

Hobbs High School SkillsUSA advisor Israel Martinez and SkillsUSA Executive Director Chelle Travis spoke at the event and even the governor attended, along with the SkillsUSA New Mexico state officer team, looking sharp in their red blazers to help honor the students.

“The skilled trades are essential to our society and that’s why SkillsUSA National Signing Day was created. To provide our future workers and leaders with an opportunity to claim their rightful share of the national spotlight as they commit to their own career paths.”

— Chelle Travis, SkillsUSA Executive Director

“At the end of the day, this is what CTECH is all about. We are preparing students to enter these high-wage, high-demand jobs where they can continue to learn and close the skills gap.”

—    Juan Carlos Medina, SkillsUSA advisor and former SkillsUSA National Officer

On the night of May 5, after Signing Day and the school opening, Mike Rowe spoke again as part of the the JF Maddox Foundation “Distinguished Lecture Series.” The purpose of the annual series is to provide nationally recognized speakers for intellectual stimulation, entertainment and contribute to the quality of life for citizens.

On the Web

  • Visit Mike Rowe’s website to learn more about his TV shows, books, videos, podcasts and the charitable mikeroweWORKS Foundation that has supported SkillsUSA students over many years.
  • Take a 3D tour of the new CTECH in Hobbs, New Mexico.

National Signing Day Stats

  • 1,023 registrants from 33 states and territories
  • 13.3% of students indicated they were signing onto an apprenticeship
  • 43.7% of students indicated they were signing onto a fulltime job opportunity
  • 36.6% of students indicated they were signing onto further education in a skilled trade
  • 6.4% of students indicated “other”
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