Leesburg, Va., Oct. 24, 2023 — A new docuseries showcasing the heart pounding, show stopping journeys of 14 SkillsUSA members from five high schools has been released, following them as they compete at the national SkillsUSA Championships. Episode one of the docuseries premiered Oct. 17 on the SKILLS JAM YouTube channel, produced by the Skilled Careers Coalition in cooperation with IGN Entertainment and SkillsUSA. The new show is packed with heart warming optimism, inspiration and validation for the effect SkillsUSA has on a student’s career journey along with some nerve-wracking moments as the students experience real-world challenges in their competitions.
The groundbreaking SKILLS JAM docuseries is the first to chronicle career and technical high school students for a public audience. It was filmed on location at SkillsUSA schools in California, North Carolina and Colorado and at the 2023 SkillsUSA National Leadership & Skills Conference in Atlanta. The show focuses on each school and their competition team’s quest to win at the SkillsUSA Championships, the largest and most technically advanced hands-on student skill competition in the world. Introduced in 1967, the SkillsUSA Championships features more than 6,000 competitors in 110 hands-on skill and leadership contests. Each competitor must earn a state gold medal to advance to nationals.
“SKILLS JAM tells the story of young adults with mad skills and unstoppable drive who are competing for the national title in their chosen craft,” explains executive producer John Montgomery, who is also the Co-Executive Director of the Skilled Careers Coalition (SCC). SCC is the presenter of the series. “Through these stories, SKILLS JAM can inspire millions of other students by upping the cool factor of the skilled trades as rewarding paths to success.”
From construction to robotics, the skilled labor gap is impacting dozens of industries that rely on the talents of skilled trade workers. In manufacturing alone, unfilled jobs are expected to balloon to 2.4MM by 2028, creating a reduction in the sector’s economic output of an estimated $2.5 trillion (source: 2018 study by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute).
“As America’s proud champion of the skilled trades, SkillsUSA is thrilled to partner with the Skilled Careers Coalition on the launch of SKILLS JAM,” said Chelle Travis, the executive director of SkillsUSA. “By shining a light on the value and importance of skilled trades, the show helps amplify our message and mission to produce the most highly skilled workforce in the world, while energizing the more than 380,000 students and educators that SkillsUSA serves annually.”
“IGN Entertainment, one of the most trusted entertainment media brands in the world, is honored to join SCC as the production partner for SKILLS JAM,” said Karl Stewart, senior vice president of Strategic Partnerships and Innovation for IGN. “For over 26 years we’ve been creating content and stories across video, social, editorial and web, engaging with over 286M+ eyeballs a month across 35 platforms. Now, we have an opportunity to take the experience and trust we’ve built up to help tell one of the most important stories of a generation.”
Highlighted in the first three episodes are these SkillsUSA high school students and their trade skill instructors:
Episode one: Lights, Camera, Nationals! showcases a Television (Video) Production team from Pleasant Valley High School in Chico, Calif. using their skills in camera, sound, interviewing and editing. Highlighted are Drew Barron and Rafael Wenslaff from Pleasant Valley High School in Chico, Calif. along with their teacher, Michael Peck.
Episode two: Teamwork Makes the Dreamwork! is about construction trades teams from Montecito High School in Ramona, Calif. and Jacksonville High School in Jacksonville, N.C. as they prepare to compete in TeamWorks, a collaboration of carpentry, masonry, plumbing and electrical skills where students build a tiny house in just a few days. Featured are students Gerson Hernandez, Chance Kaufman, Landen Kobs and Devon Tandy from Montecito High School in Ramona, Calif. along with their teacher, Nicholas Jordan. Also highlighted are students Savannah Carter, Kendall Kellum, Madison McClary and Kelize Velez-Galan from Jacksonville (N.C.) High School and their instructor, Kenneth Kellum, who is Kendall’s father!
Episode three: Ones and Zeros Gaming Heroes showcases teams from Westminster High School in Westminster, Colo. and Lakeview Leadership Academy in Victorville, Calif. who compete in Interactive Application and Video Game Development which includes game design, animation and programming. The students in this episode are James Bramble and Jose Rodriguez-Bernal from Lakeview Leadership Academy in Victorville, Calif. along with their teacher, Javier Ortega. Also featured are SkillsUSA members Erick Chavira and Jennifer Martinez from Westminster (Colo.) High School and their instructor Sergio Figueroa. To help them imagine larger futures after the competition, SKILLS JAM took the students on a field trip to a Hollywood studio where they interacted with experts and learned about pursuing trades careers in the entertainment industry — something these students never dreamed of!
Follow and share the new series on the SkillsUSA and SKILLS JAM social media channels and watch all three episodes on the SKILLS JAM YouTube channel.
SkillsUSA is America’s proud champion of the skilled trades. It’s a student-led partnership of education and industry that’s building the skilled workforce our nation depends on with graduates who are career ready, day one. Representing nearly 380,000 career and technical education students and teachers, SkillsUSA chapters thrive in middle schools, high schools and college/postsecondary institutions nationwide. SkillsUSA’s mission empowers students to become skilled professionals, career-ready leaders and responsible community members. That mission is accomplished through the SkillsUSA Framework of Personal Skills, Workplace Skills and Technical Skills Grounded in Academics, which is integrated into the classroom curriculum. Through Framework instruction, students develop the character-shaping leadership skills — teamwork, communication, professionalism and more — that successful careers and lives demand. At the same time, students hone their high-level technical skills against current industry standards in more than 130 skilled trade areas, from 3-D Animation to Welding. The result? Focused, confident and highly skilled graduates who are ready to work, ready to lead and ready to make a difference in our schools, workplaces and communities. A vital solution to the skills gap, where more in-demand skilled trades positions are available than qualified professionals to fill them, SkillsUSA has served over 14 million difference-making members since 1965. To learn more, visit www.skillsusa.org.
Skilled Careers Coalition (SCC) is on a mission to bring the youth of today to the skilled careers of tomorrow by revolutionizing this critical sector of the American workforce. A dramatic paradigm shift is taking place in both employment and education, and with industries and organizations operating in silos, SCC is driving the connectivity needed between parents, youth, educators, businesses, and brands to build a dynamic ecosystem that harnesses the talent needed to close the widening skills gap. SCC is producing engaging content, such as SKILLS JAM, and valuable resources to fuel a youth movement that sparks excitement for skilled career opportunities. For more, visit https://skilledcareers.org.
For more information about SkillsUSA, contact:
The SkillsUSA Advocacy Site is a free service for SkillsUSA members to reach the news media or contact policymakers with your message.