Research Brief by Belk Center’s Dr. Laura G. Maldonado on Postsecondary Participation in SkillsUSA

Dr. Laura G. Maldonado, Lead Research Associate with the Belk Center, has developed a research brief about her qualitative case study which explored how participation in SkillsUSA, a career and technical student organization (CTSO), influenced community college students’ preparedness for the workforce and connection to campus. The study also explored how alumni perceived the influence of SkillsUSA on their program of choice. This research is particularly important because SkillsUSA not only helps graduates and students develop technical and soft skills, but also brings the additional value of connecting students to the community college context.

Key points from the study include:

  • Students and alumni gained more knowledge about CTE (career and technical) fields and job opportunities, indicating that students and alumni expanded their work choices and skill transferability beyond their program of study and geographic areas.
  • Students and alumni met and were supported by peers, instructors, and administrators through their SkillsUSA involvement. This highlights the importance of campus connections made outside of coursework.
  • Students continued their involvement in SkillsUSA, even after completing their degree or certificate, by taking online community college classes. This indicates participants’ willingness to participate and brings additional enrollment to the community colleges.
  • While winning competitions was meaningful, students and alumni were more reflective about personal growth and overcoming obstacles. Alumni were able to apply lessons they learned from SkillsUSA into work or educational settings.

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