A delegation of students and instructors from Mississippi met with their elected officials in Washington, D.C. to talk about how their career and technical education (CTE) programs have prepared them to be college- and career-ready. Included in Mississippi’s delegation were SkillsUSA State Officers Destiny Davis and Caleb Johnson along with their advisor, Jaclyn Parker of Stone High School’s Culinary Arts Program. Destiny and Caleb earned the National SkillsUSA Statesman Award at the conference.
The four-day SkillsUSA Washington Leadership Training Institute conference provided students an opportunity to grow in their professionalism, communication and leadership skills, which they applied during their visits to Congress. Mississippi’s delegation talked to staff members of Representative Steven Palazzo and Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith about their education paths and CTE training programs, the value of career and technical education and the benefits of their SkillsUSA participation. They explained how today’s workplace requires employees with career readiness skills, and that SkillsUSA develops these skills in students of all ages and backgrounds.
The conference focused on advanced communications skills including development of a SkillsUSA Framework story to share during their visits with elected officials. This year’s conference included training for students and advisors on personal and workplace skills; a panel discussion about effective legislative visits with experts from the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate; a tour of Washington, D.C., monuments and museums; and a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.
SkillsUSA is one of the nation’s largest individual membership organizations for career and technical students and its programs are integrated into the CTE curriculum. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the average high school graduation rate for students concentrating in CTE programs is 94 percent compared to an average national freshman graduation rate of 86 percent. CTE also helps create a trained pipeline of future workers to support a strong American economy and global competitiveness.