WESTVILLE — Two Westville High School seniors, Kyle Carrell and Dalton Vance, were recognized Wednesday afternoon for their commitment to entering the skilled trades after high school graduation.

Vermilion Vocational Education Delivery System (VVEDS) and Danville Area Community College participated in National Signing Day 2019, an inaugural nationwide program that recognizes students at hundreds of SkillsUSA partners across the country.

“SkillsUSA is an organization that we belong to,” Nick Chatterton, director of VVEDS/College Express, said. “It’s like FFA for Career and Technical Education students.”

National Signing Day was created to celebrate, acknowledge, honor and encourage the thousands of high school seniors dedicated to pursuing a career as a professional in the skilled trades.

On National Signing Day, high school seniors are recognized by their school administration, SkillsUSA advisers, family and friends for making the decision to pursue a career in the skilled trades, a sector in high demand that continues to face an immense labor shortage.

In the same manner as student athletes are recognized, during National Signing Day high school seniors sign “letters of intent” for a job offer.

“They ceremoniously sign them on to work,” Chatterton said.

Kyle is enrolled in the College Express welding program at DACC, and Dalton is enrolled in industrial arts classes at WHS as well as participates in the co-op work program.

Kyle and Dalton both signed contracts of employment with Danville Metal Stamping, where they will start working full-time May 20, the day after WHS’ graduation.

Although Kyle has been enrolled in College Express for two years, it wasn’t until his senior year that he switched to welding after discovering that software programming wasn’t a good fit for him.

“I didn’t have much welding knowledge at all,” he said. “I thought it was a pretty cool skill to learn.”

Earlier this year, Kyle said he attended an open job interview for welders and machinists and landed an internship at Danville Metal Stamping.

Between his College Express welding classes and several weeks into the internship at Danville Metal Stamping, Kyle said he feels more confident about his welding skills. Eventually, he will be certified in welding by Danville Metal Stamping.

Kyle plans to enroll in classes at DACC in the fall while continuing to work.

“Danville Metal Stamping will pay 80 percent of the cost of my DACC classes if I maintain a C or higher,” he said.

Kyle said he feels fortunate to have this opportunity.

“I didn’t think I would get a good job like at Danville Metal Stamping at the age of 18,” he said.

Dalton said he’s training to be a CNC machine operator through Westville High School’s co-op program, which he explained, “allows me to go to work instead of going to DACC.”

“Some people want to go to DACC and College Express and be with their friends, and I just want to go to work,” he said.

With his high school’s block scheduling, Dalton attends high school classes in the morning and then goes to work in the afternoon.

Dalton said he had his heart set on working at the family-owned Danville Metal Stamping.

“I was recommended to go there, and I kept bugging them until they gave me an interview,” he joked.

“There are a lot of different things I can do there and eventually move up,” the 18-year-old said. “I plan to stay there a long time.”

Danville Metal Stamping has been a part of the Danville community since 1946 when it started out as a three-person company. Now employing 450 employees, it produces a variety of metal components for the aerospace and gas turbines industries.