QUALIFIED LABOR By Becky Serbin, NTCA Training and Education Coordinator In March at the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA) Career Expo, tile set- ting was once again part of the SkillsUSA competition. That fact is largely due to the persistent efforts of Rod Owen of NTCA Five Star Contractor, C.C. Owen Tile of Jonesboro, Ga., for pushing to get tile added to the SkillsUSA line up. How did Owen get involved with SkillsUSA? “Several years ago when I began participating in the CEFGA Career Expo, the SkillsUSA com- petition was also going on in the same building,” he said. “I saw competitions for masonry, plumb- ing, carpentry, welding and a mul- titude of other trades. As I began to digest this, I could not believe there was not a tile competition. So, I began pushing Scott Shelar, CEO of CEFGA and Ashley Brown, Georgia SkillsUSA to give me an opportunity for a tile competition in Georgia. After about three years of conversing back and forth my wish was granted in November 2016 for the 2017 SkillsUSA event.” Prior to the first competition, Owen worked with a team of local manufacturers and contrac- tors to put together a study guide, exam questions, and test module. Information was then forwarded to high school construction pro- grams that participate in SkillsUSA. The first year of the competition, there were five competitors. None of these students had extensive knowledge of setting tile – some of them had been setting tile for two weeks, while others started at the beginning of the semester, but none had ever set tile on an actual job. While all of the tile patterns didn’t exactly match the layout the students had been given, all of them finished quickly. Owen and team went back to the drawing board to develop a larger and tougher hands-on test for the Rod Owen of CC Owen in Jonesboro, Ga., was instrumen- tal in getting tile installation included in the SkillsUSA competition. SkillsUSA competitions for tile setting: coming to a state near you soon? 100 TileLetter | 2018