SkillsUSA State Championship Showcases Community and Technical College Students’ Knowhow

The SkillsUSA State Championship is underway for technical college students from around the state to showcase what they’ve learned.  ABC News Joel Massey has more from a participant.

Connor Thibodeaux said, “It’s definitely provided more of a challenge than I thought it would and I like a challenge it makes me know what I know and I don’t.”

Thibodeaux is an automotive repair student at Delgato Community College in New Orleans.  He is in Central Louisiana this week for the SkillsUSA State Championship.  About 500 students representing each of the 12 Louisiana Community and Technical College System campuses are competing in more than 40 categories.  Thibodeaux said the instructors have been very helpful.

“Every single one I’ve asked questions they’ve answered anything I’ve had of course that they could while I was taking the exam.  Anything that they could they did and they were very helpful and quite a few of them told me what I got wrong after time was up so that was pretty helpful.”

Toby Gustavus is a workforce development manager for Toyota.  He and his team of specialists were on hand to judge the students proficiency on several automotive tasks.

“Some of the stuff that they were tested on was powertrains, air conditioning systems and steering and suspension were the three stations we were involved in.”

Gustavus said community and technical colleges help prepare students to fill a vital need in Louisiana’s workforce.

“There is a shortage of quality technicians.  We see that in all levels.  If you look around today it’s not just automotive that’s here, there’s rental equipment, there’s construction.  So all the industries rely on community colleges themselves to partner and find the talent within those local communities and build it so that then in return supports the industries that are in those local communities.”

He said the SkillsUSA competition provides hands on opportunities for students to show what they’ve learned.

“The competition obviously brings out the best in a lot but it also allows students to see how industry actually wants to be involved in their schools as well, and as they’re graduating they can understand the next pass in their career path and what options there may be for them.”