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SkillsUSA is a national organization that promotes and serves students and teachers at both the secondary and postsecondary levels in the areas of technical, skilled, and service occupations. Its major goal is to guarantee that America continues to produce a skilled workforce by working collaboratively with business and industry.

SkillsUSA is organized by chapters, which in 2005 numbered over 13,000 and included representation from fifty-four states and territories; its membership exceeded 264,000. Additionally, nearly 15,000 educators served as SkillsUSA members and instructors.

SkillsUSA programs operate on the concept of using applied learning educational activities while focusing on the development of character, leadership, teamwork, and citizenship. It emphasizes developing eight key workplace readiness skills:

  1. Communications
  2. Problem solving and critical thinking
  3. Information technology applications
  4. Business and organization systems
  5. Leadership, management, and teamwork
  6. Ethics and/or legal responsibilities
  7. Safety, health, and environment
  8. Employability and/or career development

SkillsUSA holds local, state, and national competitions where students participate and demonstrate occupational and leadership skills. In preparation for competitions, students use a variety of materials and programs offered by national SkillsUSA.

One such program is the Professional Development Program, which teaches eighty-four workplace competencies using a hands-on approach through self-paced lessons. Another program is the Student2Student Mentoring, which provides secondary students the opportunity to serve as a mentor to younger students in the area of career development. A third program, called CareerSafe, offers students a ten-hour online training program in the area of basic safety knowledge, which was developed cooperatively with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

SkillsUSA is constantly evaluating its offerings to provide cutting-edge opportunities to meet its goals in providing a wealth of opportunities for young people in the United States. More information is available from: SkillsUSA, P.O. Box 3000, Leesburg, VA 20177-0300; 703-777-8810; 703-777-8999 (fax); [email protected] (e-mail); or,

see also Business Professionals of America ; DECA ; Future Business Leaders of America

Dorothy A. Maxwell