Bad news, bad news, bad news. It’s all over the airwaves and internet today. But last week at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference, all I saw was good news and inspiration. Imagine an event with the spirit of a religious revival where 16,000 people including 6,000 students competed, shared and grew. Imagine these young people as well-spoken, hip, respectful, talented teens who have worked hard to ply their skills in trade. Now increase what you are imagining by 10x. THAT is the good news I saw last week.
Most Americans aren’t aware of the Skills Gap. There are 6 million unfilled jobs right now, and 75% of them do not require a 4 year college degree according to celebrity and Trades champion Mike Rowe (of Dirty Jobs fame). Most are high-wage, high-growth jobs that are waiting for qualified workers. However, there is a DIRE shortage of qualified workers – and that is the Skills Gap. (See Mike interviewed on “Tucker Carlson Tonight”) He thinks that American suffers from thinking that hard work isn’t cool anymore. Is he right? I think so.
But for the 6,000 student-competitors, hard work IS cool. They came, they worked hard, they left proud. The most amazing thing about the event is that most of America has no idea it happened! Maybe it wasn’t cool enough to crack into television but is should have been. They created games, made great foods, and fixed cars. They excelled in interview competitions, nursing challenges and manufacturing problem solving. All in all, it was a week of great achievements and in some cases, on-the-spot job offers. It was the best of America! and it was inspiring.
As a result, I left a blogger – this being the first of many on topics related to CTE, STEM and other educational issues and models who’s time has come. Maybe it’s time for working hard to be cool again after all.