Vocational High School students take part in trade competition - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Vocational High School students take part in trade competition

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- It's not unusual to watch the news, or open the paper, and see stories about the state's best high school football players or spelling bee champs preparing for a big competition.

How about the best hair stylists, or electricians, or carpenters? They're working hard to win a state title too, this week right here in Chattanooga.

Our city's convention center has been transformed into one big shop class as students ply their trades in the state Skills USA competition.

"Those that are trained well...what Skills USA is all about," says Tim Fowler, East Ridge High School teacher.

Emphasizing the importance of vocational education, Skills USA requires high school students to be at their best in their respective fields, as they're under the watchful and critical eyes of career professionals. Teachers observe their students, but are not allowed to coach them, or correct their mistakes.

"And that's good....so it's all about them," says Fowler.

Students gear up for this day much like athletes prepping for a big game. They know potential employers, tech schools and colleges would like nothing better than recruit a talented craftsman with a state championship.

"This week we have....what are you going to do?," says Blake Roller, student at Sullivan Central High School.

Although school bragging rights are at stake in any competition, teachers say Skills USA is more about individual accomplishments, and the very real possibility that excellence in performance and communication can lead to a big win in the job market.

"Everything is so technical now....just to compete in the workforce nowadays," says Fowler.

How important is it to be a statewide winner in the skills USA program? Well, for one thing you get to compete this summer in the nationals at Kansas City and you qualify for a scholarship from Tennessee's technical colleges.

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