Champions at Work!

SkillUSA Over the Years - Growth and Highlights


1965: The Vocational Industrial Clubs of America, Inc. (VICA) was founded by students and teachers who were serious about their professions and saw the need for more training in the areas of leadership to complement their chosen vocation. In Nashville, Tennessee, 14 states were represented, as VICA chose its name, colors, motto, purposes and goals.

1966: VICA membership was 29,534 in 1,074 clubs in 26 chartered states and territories; the first issue of the VICA magazine was produced.

1967: VICA added five more states, began holding competitive events and introduced uniform. Membership was well over 40,000.

1968: Plans were announced for the national VICA center to be located near Washington, DC; VICA members were received by President Lyndon B. Johnson in the Cabinet Room of the White House. The students give the President a handmade gavel and sounding block inscribed, “To Lyndon B. Johnson – America’s Great Educational President.”

1969: VICA membership hit 82,000 with new chapters, college/technical membership and VICA’s yearly themes. The first theme was “Speak Up for America.”

1970: The VICA Leadership Handbook was published for the first time and a student campaign to raise funds for the National Leadership Center got underway. The theme was “Skill Build America.”

1971: At the seventh annual National Leadership Conference, there were 25 competitive activities.

1972: VICA membership up to 125,000.

1973: VICA membership over 150,000.

1974: VICA purchased land for the new National Leadership Center in Leesburg, VA; VICA members met President Ford.

1975: VICA celebrated it’s 10th anniversary with the induction of the one millionth member.

1976: 5,000 VICA members attended the U.S. Skill Olympics in Miami Beach; Membership reached a quarter of a million with 10,000 active chapters


1977: Contributions from VICA alumni, friends and members to purchase the land where the National Leadership Center now sits topped $56,000.

1978: Ground breaking began for the National Leadership Center in Leesburg, VA.

1979: The national leadership center was dedicated after 15 years of planning and fund raising.

1980: VICA started the Youth Development Foundation Committee to make sure that our programs were relevant to both students’ and industry’s needs and make sure that financing was available to support them.

1981: VICA played host to the International Youth Shill Olympics where VICA members joined 274 international contestants from 14 countries in 33 contests; nearly 7,000 VICA members attended the National Leadership Conference and U.S. Skill Olympics.

1982: The first year VICA incorporated industry updated seminars as part of the National Leadership conference.

1983: President Ronald Reagan spoke at the National Leadership conference and said, “American industry as well as American educational institutions should take note of the VICA experience.”

1984: Membership attained its three and a half-millionth member.

1985: VICA’s 20th anniversary; membership had grown to 12,632 chapters; the U.S. Skill Olympics had gone from 5 competitive events to 38; The first International Skill Olympics Gold Medal was awarded to the United States. Dennis Falls of Arizona brought home the graphic design gold medal.


1986: The board of directors opened its membership to representatives of technical and health occupations education; an ex-officio board position was created for the chairman of the Youth Development Foundation Committee.

1987: The VICA Professional Development Program was created, and in testing Level 1 6,500 students and teachers took part.

1988: VICA’s Board of Directors appointed Stephen Denby as executive director; efforts began to organize VICA chapters in Ontario, Canada; VICA released the Professional Development Program nationwide.

1989: An ex-officio position on the Board of Directors was created for the State VICA Directors’ Association.

1990: VICA celebrates its 25th anniversary.

1991: Robert Pope won the gold medal for welding in the Amsterdam International Youth Skill Olympics. He made Olympic history by receiving the first gold medal in welding for the United States, and by obtaining the most points in any IYSO contest since its beginning.

1992: VICA won the Vocational Instructional Materials (VIM) Outstanding Mediated Instructional award for its parliamentary procedure video entitled “Rules of the Game.”

1993: Nicholas Peterson won the bronze metal in welding at the International Youth Skills Olympics in Taiwan.

1994: The new name of the United States Skill Olympics was announced. The competition’s name would be the SkillsUSA Championships—to become effective during the National Leadership and Skills Conference in 1995.


1995: Branden Muehlbrandt won the silver medal in welding at the International Youth Skill Competitions (IYSC) (officially renamed from the International Youth Skill Olympics); The Skills USA Championships became the new official name of the national competition; VICA received it’s official designation as a CEU sponsor; The new Professional Development Program and the Total Quality Curriculum were introduced to the public.

1996: VICA received the Oracle Award by the International Association of Continuing Education and Training (IACET) for the new Professional Development Program; VICA received the Vocational Instructional Materials (VIM) Award of Excellence for the PDP; Secretary of Education Riley, Secretary of Labor Reich, and J.D. Hoye, Executive Director of the Department of Education’s School to Work Office spoke at VICA’s Washington Leadership Training Institute’s Congressional Breakfast.

1997: VICA held its first School-to-Work Conference at the NLSC; VICA’s web site was given an award for its web site by the Awards for Publication Excellence (APEX).

1998: The Board of Directors voted to change the name of the organization to SkillsUSA—VICA; Robert Flint of Caterpillar Inc. was the first business representative elected to chair the Board if Directors.

1999: VICA officially changed to SkillsUSA—VICA on July 4, 1999 at the National Leadership and Skills Conference; Students competing in the World Skills Competition in Montreal placed higher than ever before; Nationwide, chapter members began an image campaign in which they spoke to community leaders about the value of skilled employees, their training and SkillsUSA—VICA membership.

2001: Timothy W. Lawrence, a former student member, became national executive director. Formerly national director of business and industry partnerships, Lawrence had also been a classroom instructor, industry employee, state association director and member of the Board of Directors; An ex-officio position was created for National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education Consortium.

2002: The Board of Directors approved shortening the name of the national organization from SkillsUSA—VICA to SkillsUSA, effective Sept. 1,2004.

2003: An ex-officio position on the Board of Directors was created for a college/postsecondary representative.

2004: On Sept. 1, the organization’s name officially changed to SkillsUSA.