Shaping the Future of Working and Learning Today

Posted: June 22nd, 2016


Amazingly talented SkillsUSA students from all over the country are traversing the halls of Louisville’s Kentucky Exposition Center, showcasing their incredible skills in everything from plumbing to public speaking to computer systems networking by participating in over 100 competitions at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference. These students have already worked hard to develop abilities that far surpass those many adults will ever acquire in some areas. They are industrious by nature, having spent years at young ages perfecting skills outside of the traditional classroom and finding multiple ways to refine their abilities.  Having already proven their wide-ranging willingness and capacity to learn, they came by the ACT Foundation booth on the TECHSPO floor to give their thoughts on the future of earning through learning—playing the Learning Is Earning 2026 game, helping to beta test the SEEK skill and job mapping platform and talking to ACT Foundation and Institute for the Future representatives both about how they plan to incorporate working and learning into their futures and how they already have done so.

Dana from Missouri plans to have her own catering business. Her mom and brother cook, so she learned at a very young age. Not only does she take a culinary arts class, she works at her local Cracker Barrel restaurant. She is blending the skills that she learned at home, in class and on her job to prepare for owning a food service business in the future. At Cracker Barrel, she plans to soon cross-train as a server and a cook. Already, she has learned people skills that she’s convinced her in dealing with her future clients. “I’m better [now] at talking to people I don’t know,” she explained.

Adeola from Maryland just graduated high school, and plans to major in biological sciences in college. She wants to be a doctor. Adeola plans to volunteer at a hospital this summer so she can learn while working in the health care field. She thinks it will help her determine what kind of doctor she wants to be, and help her get the feel of what working in a medical environment is like.  She knows that she is always going to be involved in a work-learn process. “Being in the medical field, you always have to refresh your skills because technology is always changing,” she said. “There are always new things you have to learn to keep up with the times and innovation.”

Preeya is also from Maryland, and will soon be a public health major in college. She is also exploring becoming a pediatrician, and thinks she can incorporate skills from multiple jobs she has held where she has worked with kids, including employment at a tutoring company and a job at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She particularly values her ability to interact with people. “You have to be professional when speaking with patients or your fellow employees or whoever you are with,” she said. “I think that’s the most important thing, no matter what field you go into.”  Earning a paycheck has also taught Preeya the importance of money management, a skill she plans to use to juggle the cost of college.

SkillsUSA students helped bring the number of “futures imagined” through the Learning Is Earning 2026 game to over 10,000. Learn more about the game at