MEXICO, NY – In April, students from Oswego County BOCES competed against career and technical students from all over New York in the state-level SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference.
SkillsUSA is a partnership between students, teachers, and industry professionals fostering a stronger American workforce. The organization aims to help students in trade and technical fields excel.
“What’s unique about SkillsUSA, is that it’s the only student organization that has business and industry partners,” said Ron Camp, director of Career and Technical Education and Alternative Programs.
The conference has students compete against one another in their trades, as well as in leadership skills.
Areas of competition range from floral arrangements to interview skills. This year Oswego County is taking four students to nationals its biggest group yet.
“This is the first year we’re taking this many, so we’re really proud,” said Ines Rovito one of the SkillsUSA advisors.
Three students from Oswego County will be moving on to the national competition taking place June 24-28 in Kansas City, including Robert Miller of Fulton.
The fourth representative from Oswego County is up for consideration as a national officer.
Miller is a senior in the Construction Technology program. He made it to states last year, but this will be his first time at nationals.
Oswego County BOCES has an excellent record at the state level, taking a student to nationals every year for as long as the current SkillsUSA advisors can remember.
They’ve never gone on to the world competition though, which will be in London this year.
“When we compete in regionals and states we do really well, always,” said Camp.
There will be up to 50 students competing in each category, a first place winner from every state.
With some many categories to compete in, “There’s 3,000 (competitors) if not more,” said Rovito.
Miller will be competing in individual carpentry at nationals.
The competition is broken into three parts.
The Skills test about the organization, a written exam about the trade, and finally the practical exam where a student’s skills are put to the test.
Miller’s written exam will be “heavily math focused,” said Camp. “Lots of literacy and lots of math, because we want to make sure our kids are employable. That they can get a job and keep a job.”
“Tons of math,” said Miller. “It’s my best subject.”
As for the practical exam; “They give you a few minutes to look at the blueprint, to get used to it and try to figure it out,” said Miller. “Then you start.”
None of the students will know what’s on the blueprints until the day of the competition.
Students receive scholarships for placing in their individual competitions at regionals and states, and will again be competing for scholarships at the national conference.
The students will also come away with plenty of freebies from the industry professionals.
“It’s just in my family. I was always around it and I was always helping people do it,” Miller said when asked what brought him to pursue carpentry and join the BOCES program.
After graduation Miller will be attending Lincoln Technical Institute in Connecticut for Heating, Ventilation, and Air-Conditioning.
“I want to go down South somewhere,” said Miller. “It’ll be a lot easier to get a job.