Local High School Students Put Trade Skills to Test on YouTube Series ‘Skills Jam’

A new docu-series that chronicles the journey of five high school teams vying for a unique championship has debuted on YouTube and it includes San Diego County students.

The end game? Making it to the annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills
Conference in Atlanta.

Skills Jam, a three-part docuseries, is produced by the Skilled Careers Coalition and IGN Entertainment, in partnership with Warner Bros. Discovery, SkillsUSA and Ascendant Studios.

Together, the partners hope to start a movement that addresses the widening skilled labor gap faced by dozens of industries grappling with a shrinking labor pool.

“Skills Jam tells the story of 14 kids with mad skills and unstoppable drive as they compete for the title of national champion in their chosen craft,” said John Montgomery, the show’s executive producer and co-executive director of the Skilled Careers Coalition.

The series, he said, could “inspire millions of kids by upping the cool factor of skilled careers as a rewarding alternate path to success versus the traditional four-year college track which for many, has yielded less opportunity and more debt.”

And one focus of the series, which includes 14 teens from five teams, is a group from Ramona.

In the second episode, students from Montecito High School compete in Teamworks, a test of skills across the carpentry, masonry, plumbing and electrical trades.

Students from the construction program at Montecito, a continuation school, have used their skills to win consecutive state championships, despite being perceived their teacher said, as “the misfit kids.”

Producers call it a “gripping journey … filled with heart-pounding moments when the winners are revealed.” The Montecito team is featured, along with a group from Jacksonville High School in Jacksonville, N.C.

The SkillsUSA conference championship, a teen competition that started in 1967, attracts more than 7,000 high schoolers from across the country to test their skills in everything from culinary and cosmetology fields to construction and robotics.

Season One of Skills Jam will be delivered on digital distribution channels in formats ranging from short-form on TikTok to full 22-minute episodes ready for broadcast.

The pilot season focuses on the entertainment industry, covering the necessary skills along with the many opportunities in which they can be applied. Casting for season two is already underway.

“The company is deeply committed to creating career pathways into our industry for people of all backgrounds, and we’re proud to be part of Skills Jam and play our part in helping close the skilled trades gap in America,” said Dan Dark, EVP, Worldwide Studio Operations, Warner Bros. Discovery.

Ascendant Studios, an independent AAA game studio based in San Rafael, welcomed students and aspiring game developers to get hands-on experience in motion capture, game design, combat and animation as the studio geared up for their first game launch, “Immortals of Aveum.”

“It was a privilege to share our knowledge and support to help cultivate the next generation of game developers,” said Bret Robbins, Ascendant’s CEO, founder and game director.

Note: Photo credit, Students at Montecito High School in Ramona take part in the web series “Skills Jam,” screen shot via YouTube.