Right When You Think It’s All Over – Skills USA

This world is full of fluff. Full of it. I work in an office and hear from some how great the President is… then from others – very vocally, how much he sucks and we’re all doomed. Immigration will swallow our country alive. Eating meat is evil at one camp, while another diet without animal fat will ruin us. Guns are bad. Guns are awesome. Social Media is flooding us with fluff and no matter your thoughts on the above topics, your environment will stress you out about it. You may hear some other fluff. The fluff that a lack of technical workforce will cripple our nation.

If this last thing has you thinking it’s all over – in comes Skills USA. I spent this week heading to Louisville, KY at the Exposition Center to judge a skillset in Marine Technology. The venue is HUGE! Not only that, but the event filled the venue. Thousands and thousands of people were in attendance pimping their brands, their products and introducing a young workforce to seemingly real-world scenarios from a service point of view.

If you just look at the surface, you see the bling. Then you see the uniforms. All the testing youth involved is in uniform representing their specialty. Right then, at least for me, things got real. The students in attendance that came to this event already proved themselves by winning local, regional and state events to qualify to attend. There is a level of commitment here. Let’s look deeper. As I talk to some of the other judges, I am then hit with their level of commitment. Five years. Ten years. So now I am sitting here in an airport running this event through my mind and it’s hitting me. Young and old spent the week making something awesome… but yes, there’s more.

Job Interview Station

Crawling around the testing areas were scads of volunteers. They set up tables, chairs and interview booths. When there was written testing, they oversaw the rooms to add validation to the testing environment. I was surrounded by young people, helping other young people climb the next rung of their personal life ladder. It was a beautiful thing.

On one hand, I am hearing dealer owners in Powersports and Marine crying the blues about finding qualified staff, but gun shy to invest in potential stars with training. On this hand, I was seeing thousands of young people that are making the commitment and taking advantage of the opportunities afforded to them.

It’s Not All Over — Just Look Honestly at Skills USA

There are young people that care. There are young people willing to put in the work. Go get them. Put them under your wing. As Richard Branson was quoted all over Social last year… “Train people well enough so they can leave; treat them well enough so they don’t want to“.

Suzuki Digital Display Configuration

As I turned out from the Marine Technology booth to see the rest of the event, I was blown away. Art, Drafting, Metalwork, Carpentry, Robotics… all on hand with people that can keep the rubber on the road. Our excuses and buy into media hyperbole are crippling our expansive nature. When the masses zig – zag. There is an opportunity around us, we have unbelievable chances to achieve something great right now. This is the best time ever to do anything, and here we sit wallowing in some kind of malaise… turn off the negative and chase the dream.


As a distraction and inspiration… take a look at some of the metal sculptures that were on display. WOW! When I asked some of the students how much time they had in their works, I heard responses of three to six hundred hours. These are true works of art.