SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. Their mission aligns with the SPEC MIX Workforce development initiative, which works to recruit the next generation of skills masons. Sponsoring and volunteering at the SkillsUSA competition, at a local and national level, is a symbol of pride for the SPEC MIX team. Each year, and at as many locations as possible, our team of Mudslingers mixes mortar and labors for competing students. Giving back to the masonry community and creating long lasting relationships with the up-and-coming workforce is vital for the future of our industry.
“SkillsUSA allows students to get involved in extra curricular activities like football, baseball and basketball. Except they actually get to showcase the skills they learned at the schools and compete and move on and start their careers. That’s exactly what I did. I played bricklaying in high school, I still play bricklaying today.”
– Ryan Shaver, Workforce Development and Training Coordinator, NCMCA
SPEC MIX offers a $1500 scholarship to the winners of both the high school and post secondary categories of the masonry division. This year, Ashton White of Rowan Cabarrus Community College in Salisbury, NC repeated as champion in the post secondary division. Not only did she go back-to-back, last year she broke barriers by becoming the first female to win her division at the SkillsUSA national competition.
Grant Helms of West Rowan High School in Mount Ulla, NC took first place in the high school division. Both White and Helms learn under the guidance of their masonry instructor Rodney Harrington.
This fall, White will be attending UNC Charlotte for construction management. “There’s a lot of things that make me happy about masonry. I love getting to go out and explore, and meeting new people everywhere I go. There are different techniques that people use, it’s always changing, there is always a better way. I love that it is so hands on.” White said.
The wall built in this year’s competition was designed by Ryan Shaver, the Workforce Development and Training Coordinator for the North Carolina Mason Contractors Association. Shaver’s role is to travel to high school’s and trade schools across North Carolina to recruit the next generations of masons. It’s his passion, and having competed on won at SkillsUSA before, he knows how valuable this experience can be. He said, “SkillsUSA allows students to get involved in extra curricular activities like football, baseball and basketball. Except they actually get to showcase the skills they learned at the schools and compete and move on and start their careers. That’s exactly what I did. I played bricklaying in high school, I still play bricklaying today.”
SkillsUSA serves more than 360,000 students and instructors annually. Their mission is to empower its members to become world-class workers, leaders and responsible American citizens.