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CTE Month ® kicks off as YUHSD gears up for SkillsUSA Regionals

The month of February begins a three-month stretch of events for Career & Technical Education (CTE) students across Yuma Union High School District.

Feb. 1 marks the start of CTE Month, a nationwide campaign for CTE advocacy, while three days of competition will take place the following week as part of SkillsUSA Regionals.

A majority of the regional competition will be held at Arizona Western College on Friday, Feb. 8 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. However, cosmetology and culinary arts will begin earlier in the week. Cosmetology students will compete at the Yuma School of Beauty on Wednesday with culinary arts competitions being held in Kofa High School’s new culinary arts lab on Thursday and Friday.

Overall, the regional will host more than 600 students from southwest Arizona, including 500-plus from YUHSD schools. Students compete in a variety of areas, ranging from automotive to criminal justice to welding in an attempt to qualify for the state competition in April. Additionally, there are more than 200 different competition chairs and judges from education and industry volunteering at regionals. All supplies used in competition are donated by industry professionals.

For YUHSD, CTE Month provides an opportunity to showcase the impact CTE programs are making on education in Yuma and the futures of students in general. Since 2015, enrollment in YUHSD CTE programs has increased 200 percent, climbing to more than 7,700 students enrolled in at least one CTE class for the 2018-19 school year. That number makes up better than 71 percent of YUHSD student population.

CTE’s growth in the district has coincided with an increased level of student mastery. With 72 programs in six high schools and its immersive CTE Leadership Initiative, 79 percent of students have demonstrated mastery of technical skills with a 99 percent graduation rate for CTE completers.

SkillsUSA is a vital solution to the growing U.S. skills gap. This nonprofit partnership of students, instructors and industry ensures America has the skilled workforce it needs to stay competitive. Founded in 1965 and endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education, the association serves more than 300,000 member students and instructors each year in middle schools, high schools and colleges. This diverse talent pipeline covers 130 trade, technical and skilled service occupations, the majority STEM-related. More than 600 corporations, trade associations, businesses and labor unions actively support SkillsUSA at the national level. SkillsUSA programs are integrated into career and technical education through a framework of personal, workplace and technical skills grounded in academics. Local, state and national championships, which are designed and judged by industry, set relevant standards for career and technical education and provide needed recognition to its students. SkillsUSA also offers technical skill assessments and other workplace credentials. For more information, visit: www.SkillsUSA.org.

Eric Patten
epatten@yumaunion.org