Kieron Kohlmann

childhood passion for cars led Kieron Kohlmann to become a technical training developer for Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles. Today’s complex vehicles require a highly educated person to diagnose and repair them, he says. It’s something the 27-year-old has confirmed in his new role as an ambassador for the WorldSkills organization.

“WorldSkills is a global hub,” he says. “I’ve met so many amazing people in my industry from around the world. Being able to connect is an invaluable asset.”

Selected in January 2018 for the WorldSkills Champions Trust (WSCT), Kohlmann now serves on an advisory board to help raise levels of engagement among WorldSkills countries.

His journey began in 2010, when as a Washington Park (Wis.) High School student, he won a gold medal in Automotive Service Technology at the SkillsUSA Championships. That led to his selection for the WorldSkills Competition in Leipzig, Germany, in July 2013. His “wow” moment came when the team took the stage with the American flag in front of all the other countries.

Another trip, in 2012, took him to Brazil for the WorldSkills Americas competition. “I remember being with the competitors from South America and realizing they do the same job as me,” he recalls in awe. “We spoke different languages, had different cultures and different vehicles, but we all had the same passion for cars.”

Kieron Kohlmann and the WSCT

Kohlmann (front and center) joins other WorldSkills Champions Trust members in Amsterdam last October. Each represents a different region. These young skilled professionals include (front row, from left): Chirag Goel of India; Amelia Addis, New Zealand; Kohlmann, United States; Jacqueline Tanzer, Austria; Tjihimise Karearua, Namibia; (back row) Gary Condon, Ireland; Caroline Soderqvist, Sweden; Anna Prokopenya, Russia; and Pearl So, Hong Kong. A 10th member, Giovanny Sanchez of Colombia, is not pictured.

Kohlmann serves as one of 10 young ambassadors. In addition to the United States, he represents Canada, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago. He has taken five international trips and communicates daily with his peers around the world.

This exclusive network advocates the power of skills to transform the lives of young people. While it takes a lot of effort on top of his day job, Kohlmann says the rewards are worth it. “We have a monthly Skype meeting and text often, so the group has become really close as a result.”

Kohlmann, who has a bachelor’s degree in automotive engineering technology from Ferris State University in Michigan, is ASE certified as a master automobile technician, master heavy truck technician and an advanced level specialist. As with his certifications, he feels his competition experience has helped him professionally.

“It is the people you meet, seeing how other countries do things and have different education paths. It is mind-boggling,” he explains. “I have more cultural awareness, and I am able to communicate professionally in a way that bridges cultures — skills I use daily.”

A life-changing trajectory

Kohlmann says SkillsUSA changed the trajectory of his life in high school, though he didn’t know it at the time. “When I went to nationals, my teacher told me to prepare and do well, so I took his advice.”

Classroom teacher Dave Dixon and a retired instructor, Gottfried Georgi, were mentors. During the competition, a Ferris State brochure caught his interest.

In his junior year of college, Kohlmann was selected for the U.S. team going to the internationals. “To me, being selected for WorldSkills was like going to the Olympics,” he says. “I trained with industry professionals and met new people. It was an honor to be selected and to be a part of an organization that truly cares about skilled trades.”

Mike Elder helped Kohlmann train. “Kieron is a true champion,” says the assistant professor at of Pittsburg State University. “He forged friendships not only with competitors, but also with experts and business representatives.”

Adds Pittsburg State’s Scott Norman, the technical delegate for WorldSkills USA, “It has been wonderful to watch Kieron transform from a SkillsUSA student to a professional peer and colleague in the industry.”

Like these mentors before him, Kohlmann hopes one day to teach and pass on his knowledge and skills.

“I think one of the greatest ways we help others is through showcasing our experience,” he says. “By being young voices for trade skills, we can inspire others to follow the same journey.”

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