View All Press Releases


Contact: Tom Peric | Published On: Thursday, March 12, 2020

New Jersey High Schools Students Vie for the Gold in Skills USA Statewide Competition to Gain Entry to Skills USA National Championships

Winners of the Six Carpentry Competitions Receive Direct Entry into the Union Carpenters Apprenticeship Program

Edison, New Jersey — Students from technical training centers representing all New Jersey counties will demonstrate their carpentry skills at the USA Skills competition at the Union Carpenters Training Center, March 28.

Winners of each category earn a spot for the national competition in Louisville, Kentucky. And for the first time, each (of the six-gold medal winner in the carpentry competitions) will automatically gain entry to the union carpenters apprenticeship program.

“This competition is the opportunity for students to shine and demonstrate in a real-world setting what they have learned,” says Tom Sommers, director of outreach and development for the Northeast Carpenters Apprentice Training Fund, the modern Edison-based training facility that serves as the competition center for the 120 contestants.

“We tend to keep the project small enough so the student can finish it in one day but challenging enough that they have to call upon their skill and training to complete the tasks.”

The carpentry competition categories and partial list of tasks include:


Carpentry - Students frame walls using wood and/or steel studs, cut and install rafters, gable end overhangs, fascia board and soffit installation, install sheathing and/or exterior siding and trim.

Cabinet Making - Students build a small cabinet from materials and drawings supplied and demonstrating ability to read the drawings, lay out and cut the parts using a table saw, laminate trimmer, hand drill, hinge boring machine and various hand tools.

Drywall Installation - The interior systems drywall Installation contest will highlight contestants’ skills through the installation of drywall in a commercial construction setting. 

Team Works - Teams of four students build a construction project, over three days, that demonstrates their ability to work together as a team.

Finish Carpentry - The finish carpentry contest will highlight students’ skills through the installation and trimming of finishing touches after completing the primary building of a structure. This may include installing baseboards, moldings, stairs, doors, windows, and cabinets.

Design & Build Plywood Challenge - A team of two contestants design, plan, and construct a project based on an annual theme determined by the contest coordinating committee utilizing a single sheet of ¾” sanded plywood. 


Skills USA is a national organization that encourages and promotes high school students to learn a craft in the construction trades. Beyond carpentry, it supports more than 100 different trades.

“We try to bring employers together with vocational educators to make sure that the students are prepared for success when they enter the world of work,” says Peter Carey, state director, SkillsUSA New Jersey. “We validate the training that takes place in the school by having industry professionals judge them.

“We're like the third party that brings together industry, labor and education so that there are clear expectations, [about] what students need when they enter the world of work.”

Employers want the best students in the state, and the competition is an ideal opportunity for evaluating and even recruiting them after graduation, according to Carey.

Judges score the contestants on the ability to read and interpret blueprints, workmanship, safety and the proper use of tools, equipment and materials, according to Skills USA.

A major change in this year’s carpentry competition provides entry into the carpenters union apprenticeship program.

“This is an exceptional opportunity for the winners to gain acceptance into our competitive apprenticeship program,” says Sommers. “In New Jersey, the apprenticeship program covers the gamut of carpenter skills, both through on-the-job training and classroom instruction.

“We like to emphasize that our students earn while they learn a valuable skill set in the four-year program, and when they graduate, they don’t have any educational debt.”

The competition is free and open to the public.

For more information about the Carpenters Training Center, visit

For more information about the New Jersey chapter of Skills USA, visit


The Carpenter Contractor Trust (CCT) is a labor-management trust located in Edison, New Jersey. Promoting the vast resources of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC) thousands of members and participating contractor regional partners.

Raritan Plaza II | 91 Fieldcrest Avenue | Edison, NJ 08837 | 732-225-1300
1803 Spring Garden Street | Philadelphia, PA 19130 | 215-563-6858
Printable Version