National Competition Builds Pride in the Trades

Talk about pride in the trades. Talk about quality workmanship. Talk about enthusiasm and the competitive spirit. These kids - working together as a team, against a deadline, in the hot Kansas City sun -- showed it all.

By Roy Diez, Associate Publisher and Editorial Director | July 11, 2000
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I wish everyone in the home building industry could have been at the first SkillsUSA-VICA TeamBuild® Competition held late last month in Kansas City, Mo.

Teams of four vocational students - ten teams in all, each team a winner in a state-wide competition - were on hand for the "nationals." Four young people working together as a competitive team to schedule, organize and build, over a two day period, a 10' by 10" "kitchen" complete with masonry foundation, I-joist deck, two exterior walls, window, siding, cabinetry, countertop, appliances, electrical and plumbing.

Talk about pride in the trades. Talk about quality workmanship. Talk about enthusiasm and the competitive spirit. These kids—working together as a team, against a deadline, in the hot Kansas City sun—showed it all.


Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
Technical committee for the TeamBuild event included: Rick Wolverton, The Stanley Works; Peter Anderson, building trades instructor at Pulaski County (VA.) High School; Tim Carter, publisher of "Ask the Builder"; John Crowley, President of New England Classics, Inc.; Dean Horowitz, publisher of Professional Builder, Professional Remodeler and; Joe Keppler, President, Construciton Management Advisory Group; and Bill Robinson, editor, Journal of Light Construction.

Materials and tools for the TeamBuild Competition were donated by: Andersen Window Company, Becker Electric Supply, Belkin, BOSCH Power Tools, BuildNet, Cahners Publishing, Elkay Sinks and Insinkerator, Georgia Pacific, Keidel Supply Company, Linbeck Construction Corp., Magla Products, Inc., Masco Corporation, McGuire-Nichols, New England Classic, Portland Cement Association, SkillsUSA, The Stanley Works, Triangle Pacific cabinets (Armstrong World Industries), U.S. Safety, Whirlpool Corp., and Wilsonart.

And that result—to encourage and showcase the best from today's young construction trades people—was the purpose of this "inaugural" event.

The brain child of The Stanley Works and SkillsUSA-VICA, this first TeamBuild Competition was part of SkillsUSA-VICA''s 36th annual National Leadership and Skills Conference. More than 12,000 students, vocational teachers and interested parties (including yours truly) were on hand for the week-long event.

SkillsUSA-VICA is a national organization serving more than 240,000 high school and college students in technical, skilled and service occupations

The annual SkillsUSA Championships is an amazing event—thousands of young people competing in some 70 different trade and technical fields, including: electronics, computer-aided drafting, precision machining, automotive service technology, aviation maintenance, building maintenance, cabinet making, carpentry, commercial sewing, computer maintenance, cosmetology, HVAC technology, appliance technology, masonry, photography, residential wiring, residential plumbing, medical assisting, culinary arts and automated manufacturing.

The TeamBuild competition took place outdoors on Allis Plaza. Other competitions took place at the adjacent Bartle Hall convention center.

Goal of the SkillsUSA-VICA annual Skills Conference is, of course, to support technical education, encourage careers in the skilled trades, recognize, reward and celebrate the American work force.

In the construction industry, the importance of a skilled work force has never been more apparent - with already critical and growing shortages of skilled labor.

Solutions are complex and long term. But they start with rekindling respect for the trades, rebuilding pride in craftsmanship, and developing ways to attract dynamic young people—not just school dropouts, but some of the best and brightest - into the trades.

To quote one of the speakers at the SkillsUSA Conference opening ceremony: "There's nothing wrong with work."

We celebrate this example.

Roy Diez is Associate Publisher & Director of Editorial for Professional Builder. Please e-mail him with questions of comments on his column.