The job competition begins early for Ingham students, but it’s all in the name of being ready for careers. This year, the students will be competing to learn about careers in law, public safety, manufacturing and business.
The Ingham Intermediate School District has joined the movement to have students structure their learning with careers in mind. The intermediate district has 19 programs where students can learn about their career interests.
Jamie Engel, the district’s executive director of career and technical education, explained that the Wilson Center, where most of the classes are hosted, is currently under construction as they continue to add classes.
One program focused on career and technical education is SkillsUSA, an inter-school competition program Ingham ISD students will compete in this year.
Ingham students will compete against other students, exhibiting skills related to their career interests.
“It’s a leadership opportunity,” Engel explained. “When the kids go through these competitions they exhibit different leadership skills and opportunities that are gonna help them succeed.”
This is not the first time Ingham ISD has participated in SkillsUSA competitions.
The intermediate district sent 16 students to the SkillsUSA State Leadership Conference in 2022.
Ingham has also hosted a SkillsUSA competition focused on criminal justice. Students were given a replicated crime scene, a crime lab and 30 minutes to deduce what happened.
Superintendent Jason Mellema described hosting the SkillsUSA event as a cool and powerful moment for the kids to “dissect and take in every piece of the room.”
Board President Lori Zajac added, “the cool thing about the program is not only for those kids, but it’s an evaluation of how well we are training them.”
Zajac explained that after competing in activities like SkillsUSA, students have more of an understanding of what they like and what they don’t before they walk away from school.
The intermediate district added 58 students to its career and technical programs last year. Mellema and Zajac said the district wants to expand the opportunities it can offer students.
“That’s been a concerted effort to make sure that we’re advertising and communicating the right thing for our local school districts about these opportunities,” Mellema said.
Students who make it past the regional levels in the SkillsUSA competition can move on to the State Leadership Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the nationals in Atlanta.