State Updates

State Update: July 19, 2018

Illinois Excels at NLSC 2018

A delegation of 210 students, advisors, and staff traveled to Louisville, Kentucky to participate in SkillsUSA’s 54th National Leadership and Skills Conference June 26-30, 2018. This was the largest NLSC in history, with more than 18,000 individuals coming together to support career and technical education.

SkillsUSA was joined by a special guest, United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Secretary DeVos met with Models of Excellence chapters Wednesday evening and then toured the entire conference, seeing every competition SkillsUSA has to offer on Thursday. Take a look at the short video below of Secretary DeVos speaking about her impression of SkillsUSA and the students she met during her visit.

During the week, more than 8,200 outstanding career and technical education students – all state contest winners competed hands-on in 102 different trade, technical and leadership fields. SkillsUSA Illinois students were awarded 13 medals (three gold, eight silver, and two bronze). Illinois had 56 competitors finish in the top ten of their contests. Below is a full listing of Illinois medalists as well as a short week in review video.

Gold – Cooper Blakeney
Diesel Equipment Technology (College)
Illinois Central College – East Peoria, IL

Gold – Tate Hetherington
Internetworking (High School)
Livingston Area Career Center – Pontiac, IL

Gold – Zane Wilson
CNC Technician (College)
Southwestern Illinois College – Belleville, IL

Silver – Team of Dan Altman, Connor Braasch, & Joshua Yates
Automated Manufacturing Technology (College)
Southwestern Illinois College – Belleville, IL

Silver – Joey Gemini
Technical Drafting (High School)
York Community High School

Silver – Justin Gierich
Early Childhood Education (High School)
Livingston Area Career Center – Pontiac, IL

Silver – Samantha Killen
Graphics Imaging¬ Sublimation (College)
Illinois Central College – East Peoria, IL

Silver – Jonathan Lunk
Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (High School)
High School Waterloo High School – Waterloo, IL

Silver – James Sullivan
Screen Printing Technology (College)
Illinois Central College – East Peoria, IL

Bronze – Team of Colin Gamagami & Jaden Potete
Interactive Application & Video Game Creation (High School)
Wilco Area Career Center – Romeoville, IL

Two Illinois Students will Represent United States at WorldSkills

Two SkillsUSA Illinois members have won the opportunity to compete on the world stage representing the United States at WorldSkills 2019. REBEKAH HAGBERG of Bloomington, IL will represent the United States in Hair Dressing and DYLAN WERTZ of Lisle, IL will represent the United States in Car Painting during the biennial WorldSkills Competition in Kazan, Russia. Hagberg and Wertz will compete as members of the SkillsUSA WorldTeam. The 45th international event will be held August 22-27, 2019.

Every two years, hundreds of young people from more than 77 countries and regions compete in the prestigious WorldSkills Competition. Member countries include: Japan, England, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Australia, Thailand, Argentina and many others. There are 20 members on the SkillsUSA WorldTeam. Other occupational areas in which the United States plans to compete include Autobody Repair, Automotive Service, Aircraft Maintenance, Bakery, Bricklaying, Cabinetmaking, Car Painting, CNC Milling, CNC Turning, Cooking, Graphic Design, Hairdressing, Heavy Vehicle Maintenance, Mechanical Engineering (CAD), Mechatronics, Plumbing, Print Media, Restaurant Service, and Web Design.

Congratulations to Rebekah and Dylan!

Award Winning Growth in Illinois

This was a fantastic year of growth for SkillsUSA Illinois, Inc. Adding over 15 new chapter charters, SkillsUSA Illinois was able to triple their membership during the 2017-18 school year. This was mostly due to schools seeing the value and integrating SkillsUSA’s Career Essentials: Experiences curriculum – the solution to producing career-ready graduates who are prepared to face the 21st-century demands of employers.

With this growth, SkillsUSA Illinois earned two national-level awards. On June 26, 2018, SkillsUSA Illinois Executive Director Eric Hill was presented with the 2017-18 Largest High School Membership by Percentage Increase Growth Award and the 2017-18 Largest Overall Membership by Percentage Increase Growth Award. SkillsUSA Illinois is looking forward to a year of continued growth next year!

State Update: December 15, 2017

SkillsUSA Illinois hosts a successful L.E.A.D. conference. 

L.E.A.D. 2017 Conference!

Good afternoon,

Last week, SkillsUSA Illinois hosted our annual L.E.A.D. (Learn. Educate. Act. Dream.) Conference in Tinley Park, Illinois. We had students from across the state come together to focus on developing themselves as young professionals. This is truly my favorite conference that we put on, as it is one of the times where our organization sets aside the technical skills and solely focuses on the 21st century employability skills that our students are in such desperate need of.

Twelve SkillsUSA alumni returned to run and facilitate trainings during the event. It was a great chance for our students to work with dedicated individuals, who were participating in this conference just a few short years ago. These alums shared their stories of how SkillsUSA helped put them on a path to success.

In addition to the great support of our alumni, I would like to also thank Don Hermanek, Rita Figi, and the entire IAA team for coordinating the simulated interviews at L.E.A.D. We were honored to have representatives from IAA and State Farm present to assist with the interviews. We thank them for their support and dedication to SkillsUSA.

Here is a short video that highlights this great conference! Thank you again to all who made it such a great success.

Growth in Illinois!

For too long, people who are familiar with SkillsUSA have said that we are the best kept secret in the country. This is a phrase that I find baffling. What about this wonderful organization holds us back from EVERYONE in the United States understanding the value and the mission of SkillsUSA?

Today, we are finally seeing a shift, a slow shift, but a shift non-the less toward career and technical education being brought to the forefront of education. Finally, discussions are being had about the value of organizations, like SkillsUSA, and how we will be the solution provider to some of the countries’ biggest issues.

I am excited to announce that Illinois will be seeing several new schools and school districts for the 2017-2018 school year. These are schools that are completely new to SkillsUSA or have not had participation in over ten years.

I would like to welcome Rockford Public Schools (Jefferson High School), Elgin Unity 46 (Larkin, Bartlett, Elgin, South Elgin, and Streamwood High Schools) and Danville Community College.

We are very excited to welcome these schools and want to emphasize the need for continuing to grow the opportunities that we offer to our membership!

New Opportunities!

Due to the tremendous growth in SkillsUSA Illinois, we must begin to look at plans to expand our offerings and opportunities to our students. As volunteers and supporters of SkillsUSA, we will be turning to some of you for this support.

It is clear that for SkillsUSA Illinois to continue to grow and serve our members, we must begin to expand our offerings. Currently, students must take a qualifying exam to come to our State Leadership and Skills Conference, however because of the growth and demand for hands on experiences, SkillsUSA Illinois is looking to host our first ever regional qualifying events. We plan to host three regional qualifying events next year. We have identified the following contests as possible regional events:

Architectural Drafting (CAD)
Automotive Refinishing Technology
Automotive Service Technology
Collision Repair Technology
Commercial Baking
Computer Programming
Criminal Justice
Culinary Arts
Diesel Equipment Technology
Early Childhood Education
Emergency Medical Technician
Job Interview
Nurse Assisting
Power Equipment Technology
Technical Drafting (CAD)

We will be reaching out to some of you, for ideas and support of these new events. If you are interested in assisting, please feel free to reach out to discuss more.

Our goal is to allow all students, that want the experience of a hands-on competition, the opportunity to experience one!

I hope that all of you have a great end to your year and I look forward to seeing all of you soon!

Happy Holidays!

Eric Hill
State Director
SkillsUSA Illinois

Executive Update: September 28, 2017 

Important Dates
Sept. 23-27: Washington Leadership Training Institute (WLTI) – Alexandria, VA
Sept. 28-29: Advisor Development Conference (ADC) – Lisle, IL
Oct. 7: SkillsUSA Illinois Board of Directors Meeting – Pekin, IL
Oct. 14-15: State Officer Training & L.E.A.D. Conference Meeting – Pekin, IL 

Executive Director’s Report
Welcome to the 2017-2018 Year!
On behalf of everyone at SkillsUSA Illinois, welcome to the 2017-2018 year. We are very excited to kick off a new year and continue to improve and partner with you as you continue your great work with students.

SkillsUSA is the answer for preparing students to be JOB READY DAY ONE! With you, we seek to empower our students to become world-class workers, leaders and responsible American citizens. We do this by using the SkillsUSA Framework to enhance and develop our students; equally valuing Personal Skills, Workplace Skills, and Technical Skills Grounded in Academics. 

Whether you are a longtime supporter of SkillsUSA or just starting to learn about how we are starting to solve our country’s workforce shortage, this video (made by our students) perfectly explains the need for SkillsUSA in classrooms across Illinois. 

Collision Repair Education Foundation’s 3rd Annual Cars, Careers and Celebrities Expo
This past week, SkillsUSA Illinois participated in the Collision Repair Education Foundation’s 3rd Annual Cars, Careers and Celebrities Expo at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet Illinois. Over 600 students from across Illinois and seven other states attended the event. This event was open to all Collision and Automotive students as a free event. SkillsUSA Illinois hosted the interview tent and, with the help of industry supports, facilitated over 250 interviews. 

This was a great event and I would like to thank all the great partners that helped CREF put on this amazing event! 

 Here are a few pictures from the event.  

Busy day at the Speedway!

Posted by Collision Repair Education Foundation on Friday, September 15, 2017

Supporting Our Local Chapters, One Dollar At A Time
SkillsUSA IS the answer to this countries skills gap, but don’t listen to me, listen to Mike Rowe testify before Congress and on Fox Business about the impact that SkillsUSA has on our future workforce.  

It is no secret that the State of Illinois is in financial needs. Schools are struggling to maintain current offerings and dealing with hard decisions of keeping programs or scaling back. This year, SkillsUSA Illinois is focusing on supporting our local chapters with our Red Jacket Scholarship. These $500 scholarships will go to help support our local schools with costs associated with SkillsUSA. These grants will support schools across the state, but we need YOUR help.  

Click here to learn more about our Red Jack Scholarships and submit your pledge to help our local chapters continue to grow!  

Future Events
It is hard to believe, but planning for the 2018 State Leadership & Skills Conference is underway. We are anticipating one of the largest State Leadership & Skills Conference in our history! This year our conference will be April 19-21 at the Bank of Springfield Center, in Springfield, Illinois. We will have more information coming about that event in future updates, but if you would like more information please let us know. We look forward to introducing new partners and building opportunities for our students.  

L.E.A.D. Conference provides students with opportunities to build early leadership skills and establish long rewarding tactics around responsibility and teamwork. Students build connections with students across the state as they create work groups with diversification in ages, skill areas, and school locations. Students learn first-hand what team skills and responsibilities are about. They work together to complete leadership tasks while drawing from the talents of the participants, dealing with personality conflicts, taking risks in new situations, practicing speaking and presentation skills, all while having fun. 

Our L.E.A.D. Conference will be held at the Tinley Park Convention Center on December 7-9. We will be looking for potential interviewers to assist us with the mock interview session. If you are interested in assisting with these interviews, please email 

Here is a link to our 2017-2018 Calendar for access to all events that are happening around the state this year.  

2017-2018 Calendar

We look forward to working with you this year!  

All the best,

Eric Hill
Executive Director
SkillsUSA Illinois

State Update: September 19, 2017

Elgin Community College’s Mark Carriveau Nominated to SkillsUSA Illinois, Inc. Board of Directors


Pekin, Ill., September 19, 2017 – SkillsUSA Illinois, Inc. Board of Directors welcomed their newest member, Mr. Mark Carriveau, to serve as Region 1 & 2 representative for a two-year term at their last board meeting on August 26th. In his role, Carriveau will further the association’s mission of developing leaders for tomorrow and ensuring America has a skilled workforce.

SkillsUSA Illinois, a state affiliated association of the national SkillsUSA, serves high school and college students and professional members who are enrolled in technical, skilled and service occupations. SkillsUSA Illinois has approximately 3,500 members in chapters throughout the state. As a member of the SkillsUSA Illinois Board of Directors, Carriveau will help the board to better serve its more than 130 chapters across the state. The board will also be responsible for highlighting SkillsUSA opportunities for high school and college students in Illinois and creating programs for the association to better enhance the communication between volunteers and schools. SkillsUSA works tirelessly to build awareness of the high demand jobs that are available in the over 150 industries that it represents. SkillsUSA Illinois’ Board of Directors consist of regional representatives who represent the schools, teachers and students in their region and business and industry partners. The mixture allows SkillsUSA Illinois to stay aligned with both industry and educations needs as the organization expands and enhances their impact on members.

SkillsUSA Illinois Executive Director Eric Hill noted, “I would like to welcome Mark to our Board of Directors. As a longtime supporter of SkillsUSA, and now a full-time photographer and part-time faculty member Elgin Community College, Mark will help in our efforts to support the future members of SkillsUSA. He will be a valuable addition to our board and will be a critical member as we work towards taking this organization to the next level and enhance our ability to support our secondary and post-secondary schools, instructors and students.”

Carriveau will bring his extensive knowledge and expertise in the photo journalism to SkillsUSA and will create connections and opportunities to new industries that are currently not being targeted. As a past member of SkillsUSA (then VICA), Carriveau can relate to the mission of SkillsUSA and ensure that it is continued. Carriveau is a former member of Technology Center of Dupage’s (formally DAVEA) SkillsUSA Chapter. His role as photographer is to handle all roles of photography for marketing, advertising, news and social media. He also serves as board secretary for the University Photographers Association of America.

About SkillsUSA
SkillsUSA helps students discover and grow their career passions. As a nationwide partnership of students, instructors and industry working together, SkillsUSA works to ensure America has a skilled workforce. It helps every student excel. The nationwide career and technical education student organization annually serves more than 300,000 high school, college and postsecondary students—and their instructors—in technical, skilled, and service occupation instructional programs. Career and technical education is learning that works for America. SkillsUSA has the active support of more than 600 corporations, trade associations, business and labor unions at the national level. Over 11 million people have been annual members of SkillsUSA since its founding as the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America on May 8, 1965. SkillsUSA programs teach leadership, citizenship and character development to complement technical skill training. The organization emphasizes respect for the dignity of work, ethics, workmanship, scholarship and safety. For more information, go to: