PPG once again supported the SkillsUSA Championships, which were held at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, June 22-23. SkillsUSA, a national nonprofit organization, serves more than 300,000 high school, middle school and college students, preparing them for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations. The organization acts as a link between education and industry, helping students excel in their chosen field and qualify for jobs in the real world.
PPG has long been involved with SkillsUSA, primarily in the automotive segment of the national championships, and is a major sponsor of the event. Key employees have volunteered their time and knowledge to assist students and serve as judges. PPG also contributes paint and other supplies from year to year, on a rotating basis with three other participating paint companies.
This year, 80 students participated in the two automotive areas — repair and refinish. PPG helped establish the refinish competition in 2008 and brought eight volunteers to the championships for the 2016 event. One of the volunteers, Jamie Redd, PPG training center manager, is a segment leader in the national competition. He began by assisting SkillsUSA on the state level in 1997, then got involved on the national level.
“The PPG volunteers have a passion for SkillsUSA and the segment competitions,” said Redd. “We like what we do and are very excited to share our knowledge with the young people who want to go into automotive refinish. The skills the students learn and develop will be particularly important for our customers — and the whole industry — down the road. We are excited to support SkillsUSA, to participate in its activities and competitions and to show the students the opportunities that await them in our industry.”
According to Timothy Lawrence, SkillsUSA executive director, there is currently a shortage of painters and body repair technicians. “SkillsUSA encourages young people to consider technical careers in these areas,” he said. “By participating with SkillsUSA, PPG has the chance to ensure the high caliber of the collision industry’s workforce.”
Some students are eventually hired by PPG or its customers: Jessica Crowley competed four years ago in the refinish segment and won a bronze award. Today, she is a PPG technical sales instructor and has returned to the championships floor — as a judge. Crowley is featured in the current issue of SkillsUSA Champions magazine.