Training a WorldSkills Candidate

Ethan had never cut dovetails before meeting his mentor last April. Now his dovetails are nearly flawless.

Training for WorldSkills is like training for the Olympics. A lot of countries take it very seriously, with competitors training full time for up to two years before the event.

The U.S. recently decided to up their game as they prepare to send a contingent of skilled craftspersons to the world competition in Kazan, Russia, this coming August.

Ethan Harrison, from Blackfoot, ID, will represent the U.S. in the Cabinetmaking competition. He was selected from a group of four finalists who competed at the SkillsUSA national competitions in Louisville in 2017 and 2018. SkillsUSA agreed to support Ethan’s training by allowing him to attend our program in Madison under the tutelage of Madison College instructor Jeff Molzahn.

Ethan arrived in Madison last October and made a strong impression from the start. He is like a sponge, absorbing our learning materials and seeking advice. One of the goals for Ethan’s training program is to experience an international competition prior to traveling to WorldSkills. Ethan found an event in Austria, applied, and was accepted.

To qualify for the event, Ethan had to submit a project for consideration. He designed a small table with a veneered top. He is scheduled to travel there in March to participate in the International Young Adult Furniture Making Invitational. Ethan’s long term goal is to run his own business building furniture and custom cabinetry.

SkillsUSA provided a platform to compete and standout—especially for a kid who wasn’t sports-oriented. Along the way, he has learned a great deal about himself and became a better leader.

Ethan works on a veneered table top — his first time working with veneer.

Ethan was inspired by his friend Rhett, who was killed in a tragic motorcycle accident when Ethan was a junior in high school. Rhett competed in cabinetmaking at nationals the year before Ethan. Losing his friend sparked a desire to carry forward his legacy and helped him decide that woodworking was what he wanted to do for a career.

When asked what the most important thing he has learned since coming to Madison College, Ethan replied, “A lot of new ways to do things, including the importance of being accurate when measuring.” This humble young man also has a few words of wisdom which he shares daily with his fellow students: “Make good choices and remember who you are.”

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