Mar 8, 2013 8:52 PM by Jen Fenter (firstname.lastname@example.org)
GREAT FALLS - Industrial arts students from around the region put their skills to the test in the fourth annual welding competition, held at Great Falls College-MSU on Friday.
The trades industry is continuing to grow in the Treasure State, with an increased demand for workers nationwide..
Loren Drivdahl, Fergus High School industrial arts teacher, noted, "In order for our infrastructure or any of those things to be upgraded, we need trades people. We need a workforce."
Drivdahl said, "My students are way better now than they used to. The skill set has gotten better, the equipment has gotten better, the amount of information I have to give them during the course of a school season has gone up because of what's expected at the college level."
But it doesn't take 20 years in the business to notice a change - even the newer competitors in the Skills USA Challenge are seeing a shift.
Quentin McCoure, a junior at Fergus High School, said, "I went her last year and can tell you, competition-wise, it's gotten harder."
McCoure and the other 18 regional competitors participating in the event gave themselves an opportunity to learn their strengths and weaknesses and continue to advance.
McCoure said, "Last year I got a lot of knowledge before, and I went and took that back and asked questions and got all the knowledge before I went to state."
With the state contest in Havre a month away, McCoure plans to take his questions from this competition back to the classroom for a little last minute cramming - something their instructors say is creating a workforce of highly capable tradesmen.
Drivdahl said, "They've made this a challenging contest. Each year, our students are getting pushed to be better print readers, to be better, do better job interviews, a better job with their physical job skills. Each time, it's gotten tougher and tougher."