LEWISTON — Recently the Lewiston Regional Technical Center wrapped up its first ever local SkillsUSA competition and students competed in more than 30 career and technical skill areas. Competitions focused on career related skills associated with professions such as: accounting, Web design, engineering, construction trades, marketing/entrepreneurship, law enforcement and automotive.

Gold medal winners in each category will advance to represent LRTC at the state SkillsUSA competition in Bangor in March. LRTC will send 61 students, it largest student group to date. Winners at the state competition will represent Maine at the National SkillsUSA in Kansas City.

Critical to the continued success of programs like those at LRTC and SkillsUSA, are partnerships between schools and industry. Businesses and trade groups provide information on industry standards, curriculum, financial support and mentoring opportunities. Many area businesses are active at LRTC and lend various types of support.

Mark Gordon, director of fixed operations for Lee Auto Mall, was a judge for one of the automotive competitions. “Programs like those offered at LRTC are vital to our industry. Students receive hands on learning; they gain valuable skills and technical training that puts them ahead of others interested in this profession.”

Chef Michael Gosselin from The Falls restaurant in Auburn was also a guest judge. Being an LRTC graduate, Lewiston Class of 2002, he knows first hand the importance of a career and technical education.

“My experience at LRTC really prepared me for this industry,” he said. “You get a feel for the skills that are needed to be successful and enough practical knowledge to decide if this is a career for me. If it is, the skills are highly transferable to continuing your education and then moving on in the industry.”

SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit organization serving teachers and high school and college students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations, including health occupations. Nationally, SkillsUSA serves more than 300,000 students and instructors through 13,000 school chapters in 54 state associations.

For more information about LRTC and to see a complete list of medal winners, visit www.lewiston.mainecte.org.

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