About 100 high school students put their skills to the test in areas such as carpentry, electrical, masonry, plumbing, sheet metal and welding on Nov. 16 at the Augusta Exchange Club Fairgrounds as part of the East Georgia Skills Challenge.
“We need more young men and women to see our industry as a career path,” said Associated General Contractors of Georgia CEO Mike Dunham. “We are doing that in a lot of different ways, but one of which is working with our high schools that have construction programs.”
Thursday’s skills challenge is one of eight regional events held throughout Georgia that will host over 2,300 students from nearly 100 schools.
Students at Thursday’s event represented 14 counties including Burke, Columbia, McDuffie and Richmond.
“These challenges are not only like a competitive factor but also it allows students to see that we are a high-demand career field with very high paying jobs,” said Dunham. “So, you will have students from these challenges entering the workforce making very good money and also be employed their entire lives.”
Students spent part of the day participating in challenges that showcased the skills that they learned from instructors during their high school career.
“You teach them all the skills that they need, but when they come to an event like this, they are able to put those skills to the test,” said Courtney Brinkman, the welding teacher at Thomson High School. “But overall, it’s an amazing, connecting event for the kids and for the industry to be able to connect together.”
In addition to the competing students, other students watched and learned in hopes of competing in the future. Along with the students in attendance, there were construction industry professionals offering their knowledge and expertise to help students become more knowledgeable with specific construction trades.
“These students that are competing today are getting a chance to showcase their skills to professionals what they have learned in school,” said Dunham. “If they win here and are members of SkillsUSA, they will go on to the state competition in February, and from there they can go on and compete at the national competition.”
The contractor organization partnered with R. W. Allen Construction, GoldMech and Sliver Sheet Metal to host the skills challenge.
The East Georgia skills challenge ended an eight-county tour that allowed students to learn new skills and overall showcase them to family, instructors, and professionals.
“We continue to make people aware of the need for construction growth and the careers that they are able to create in this field,” Dunham said. “We have about 185 high schools that have these programs so we as an industry work to connect the contractors to the schools to allow students to see a career path in our industry.”
For more information about Skills Challenges, please visit www.agcga.org/skills.
Maxwell Shaffer is an Augusta University student and features correspondent for Augusta Good News. To subscribe to the Augusta Good News newsletter, click here.
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