Parents, teachers and industry employers watched on Saturday morning as teams of high school students from Jones and Onslow counties competed in skilled trades including construction, automotive, drafting, electrical, masonry, welding, culinary and digital electronics.
The 5-hour Trades Day program at Coastal Carolina Community College aimed to showcase the skill set of local youth, and to showcase why vocational training programs are an ideal fit for some high school students.
“Trades Day is about showcasing these young people’s skills in a competitive fashion,” Don Herring, division chair for student services at Coastal Carolina Community College, said. “It’s also about showcasing partnerships. These partnerships do work and we do have trained (individuals) for the community and the workforce here.”
Trades Day was presented by the Jacksonville Onslow Chamber of Commerce, Coastal Carolina Community College, Eastern Carolina Workforce Development Boards and the Onslow County Homebuilders Association.
Parents and students could walk through the Trades Building and ask questions of current vocational students and instructors as the competition continued outside.
Dixon High School sent about seven students to compete in carpentry, welding and culinary arts during Trades Day.
Junior Corey Smith competed in the Welding II category, saying he was interested in competing because he heard a rumor of a $100 cash prize for first place.
“I heard I could win money and I wanted to see how I’d stand against everybody else here,” Smith said. “We had to do a T weld, a buck weld, a lap weld and then we had to weld a little pipe to the metal.”
Smith received 3rd place for welding.
DHS carpentry team Clayton Parker, a junior, and his cousin Jacob Parker, a senior, have been working together for years and Trades Day was no different.
“We requested to be on a team,” Clayton Parker said. “We’re related. We do everything together and Trades Day is the same.”
The Parkers received 3rd place for carpentry. The carpentry team framed two walls alongside about five other teams, all working on a limited amount of time.
“I don’t know if it’s the best one there, but we’re happy with it,” Jacob Parker said. “I think we did a good job.”
County Commissioner Jack Bright says Trades Day is an extension of the services and programs that will be offered at the future industrial park being planned by county officials.
“So many people now are looking for ways they can make money without spending a lot of money to go to college,” Bright said. “Vocational training gives them the opportunity to have an education and expertise in certain areas like welding, mechanics, and drafting.”