Local students honored at Annual SkillsUSA workforce development event

Published 12:10 am Sunday, July 7, 2024

ATLANTA — Career and technical students represented the Rowan County area well at the 2024 SkillsUSA Championships, held in Atlanta, June 26-27.

Mason E. Ridenhour, from Rockwell and a student at East Rowan High School, was awarded the high school gold medal in masonry.

Meanwhile, two students from Kannapolis Middle School, Grace Laukaitis and Halainn Mineo, were awarded the middle school silver medal in robotics-urban search and rescue.

The SkillsUSA Championships is the largest skill competition in the world and covers 1.79 million square feet, equivalent to 31 football fields or 41 acres.

“More than 6,000 students from every state in the nation participated in the 2024 SkillsUSA Championships,” said SkillsUSA Executive Director Chelle Travis. “This showcase of career and technical education demonstrates SkillsUSA at its finest. Our students, instructors and industry partners work together to ensure that every student excels. This program expands learning and career opportunities for our members.”

Students were invited to the event to demonstrate their technical skills, workplace skills and personal skills in 115 hands-on competitions including robotics, automotive technology, drafting, criminal justice, aviation maintenance and public speaking. Industry leaders from 850 businesses, corporations, trade associations and unions planned and evaluated the contestants against their standards for entry-level workers. Industry support of the SkillsUSA Championships is valued at over $36 million in donated time, equipment, cash and material. More than 1,200 industry judges and technical committee members participated this year.

A total of 1,250 gold, silver and bronze medals were presented to students on Friday night, June 28 at the SkillsUSA Awards Session. Many winners also received industry prizes, tools of their trade or scholarships. The medalists also received a Skill Point Certificate representing workplace readiness in the student’s occupational specialty. Students can add the certificate to an employment portfolio. As an indicator of proficiency, Skill Point Certificates were awarded to all national contestants who medaled or who met a threshold contest score for their event.

The SkillsUSA Championships event is held annually for students in middle school, high school or college/postsecondary programs as part of the SkillsUSA National Leadership & Skills Conference. The national, nonprofit partnership of students, instructors and industry is a verified talent pipeline for America’s skilled workforce that is working to help solve the skills gap.