Statewide Career And Technical Education Competition Adapts To COVID-19 Reality

Apr 26, 2021

A student at the Elkhart Area Career Center welds a design for the SkillsUSA competition while being recorded on camera.
Credit Justin Hicks/IPB News

Indiana high school students taking career and technical courses like cosmetology and welding are wrapping up a statewide competition this week. Due to the pandemic, it looks a little different this year as students compete virtually.

As schools went virtual this past year, many had to adapt their hands-on CTE courses. The statewide SkillsUSA competition, often a culminating experience for those students, is trying something new as well. After being canceled last year, this year students are competing through video, photos, or online submissions. Normally it draws hundreds of students, teachers, and industry groups looking to hire young workers together in-person at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. 

Kelley Baker is the statewide director for SkillsUSA Indiana. She said having students share their mostly hands-on work in a virtual format has proved challenging, but it’s an important moment for CTE students.

“I don’t even want to say [for] normalcy – because this isn’t anything like our contest normally would have been in person – but kind of getting them back on the road to let them know that what they’re doing is very important,” Baker said.“It’s a little bit different, but we’re ready to be full swing, in person next year... [We’re] keeping our fingers crossed.”

Based on their performance in Indiana, students could compete in a national competition – also virtual this year – or win scholarships from colleges.

Contact reporter Justin at jhicks@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @Hicks_JustinM.