SkillsUSA returns to Kansas City on June 23-27, 2014 for its 50th annual National Leadership and Skills Conference. And since the masonry competition was one of the original events, our industry is also celebrating a milestone of support for the vocational crafts. For many masons, involvement in this vocational program provided the start towards their career.This year

Fifty-three students will gather in the corner of the H. Roe Bartle Hall. In a six-hour period they will construct a composite brick and block project designed to test their ability to meet industry standards in quality. In addition to the project, students take a written exam and are evaluated by a panel of journey-level judges on safety and workmanship.

All of this wouldn’t happen without strong Industry Involvement. First there are the thousands of supporters who help at the local level. Schools and instructors are always on the hunt for materials and tools for their classroom work. Masons donate their time by visiting the schools and encouraging students to stay in the craft. And when properly trained the students get a start as a laborer or an invitation to become an apprentice.

At the national level,  there’s a National Technical Committee for masonry chaired by Bryan Light, Brick Industry Association. His team includes : Dan Belcher, NCCER; Nick Blohowiak, SPEC MIX, Inc.; John Bongiovanni, Bon Tool Co.; Ray Leonhard, Brick Industry Association; Jeff Buczkiewicz, Mason Contractors Association of America; Brian Carney, SPEC MIX, Inc; Rolly Cox, Multiquip Corp.; Dennis Graber, National Concrete Masonry Association; Kim Haley, Marshalltown Co.; Peter Kiley, Oldcastle Architectural; Bill Kjorlien, Argos USA; and, Bob Melton, Masonry Institute of Tennessee.

The group is supported by a national education team. Members are Al Herndon, Florida Masonry Apprentice & Educational Foundation; Todd Larson, Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College; Billy Matkins, New Albany Schools; Richard McKnight and, Richard Nagy.

Bryan is always looking for more support. And if you live near Kansas City, you might want to stop by to watch, as the national competition will be moving to Louisville in 2015.