LINCOLNSHIRE, ILL. — To raise awareness of skilled trade careers and to help close the U.S. skills gap, SkillsUSA and Klein Tools hosted May 8 the inaugural SkillsUSA National Signing Day. The event celebrates nearly 3,000 high school seniors dedicated to pursuing a career in residential wiring, building trades and renovations, HVAC or plumbing at hundreds of schools across the nation.
Local communities, school administrators, teachers, elected officials, SkillsUSA advisors, family and friends came together to celebrate these students for making the decision to pursue a career or continuing education in the skilled trades. Similar to National Signing Day events for high school student athletes, seniors announce their career plans and sign "letters of intent" for a job offer, apprenticeship or advanced technical training.
Tradespeople and others across the nation are encouraged to participate by sharing their thoughts of encouragement on Klein Tools’ Facebook page.
Official spokespeople NFL quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and his father, Tony Garoppolo, a career electrician, celebrated SkillsUSA National Signing Day with the students at Silicon Valley Career Technical Education in San Jose, Calif.
"Signing Day was a big moment in my life," Jimmy Garoppolo said. "It solidified my decision to attend college and play football, putting me on course to where I am today in my NFL career. The students we are celebrating today are making that same kind of commitment. This is their first step on the path to a rewarding and vital career.
“From here, they'll need to work on the skill, patience and hard work required to succeed as a trade professional, a lesson I learned from my dad, who supported our family as a professional electrician. Congratulations to all the hardworking students who [signed] their official 'letters of intent.'"
Tony Garoppolo added: "After 40 years as an electrician, I've seen how the industry has changed and know that it's more important than ever for us to encourage young people to explore a career in the skilled trades. The students who are participating in SkillsUSA National Signing Day were fortunate enough to have someone help them understand the many benefits of a career in the trades. We hope that this day will help even more people understand the growing demand for skilled trade professionals and how vital these careers and future workers are to our economy."
Students participating in the first-ever SkillsUSA National Signing Day took home a Klein Tools signing kit, which includes a hat, T-shirt, bag and their first pair of professional-grade Klein Tools pliers to start their careers. Also, the students are receiving special offers on select Klein Tools products exclusively at The Home Depot as part of the retailer's commitment to outfitting and training 20,000 new tradespeople by 2028.
"We are thrilled to be able to recognize nearly 3,000 high school seniors from nearly 300 schools across the country for their commitment to the skilled trades," said Mark Klein, co-president of Klein Tools. "These students will make a big impact on the U.S. labor market and will help to close the skills gap impacting our country today. We hope that by raising awareness of the many career options in the skilled trades, we will have even more students signing their 'letters of intent' next year."
Klein Tools, title sponsor of SkillsUSA National Signing Day 2019, is a 162-year-old American manufacturer that designs, develops and manufactures premium-quality, professional-grade hand tools used in the construction, electrical, utility and mining industries. Klein Tools' commitment to American manufacturing runs deep — with nine facilities in seven states, including its corporate office and world-class forging facility in suburban Chicago and its state-of-the-art manufacturing headquarters in Mansfield, Texas.
"This is an exciting day for our students, the SkillsUSA advisors and the country," said Tim Lawrence, executive director of SkillsUSA. "It is great to see our students honored for their hard work and commitment to a fulfilling career in the skilled trades. Thanks to Klein Tools for sponsoring our first-ever National Signing Day. We look forward to watching this program grow for many years to come."