Four student team finalists compete in the Project MFG National Challenge, a skilled trades competition, for a chance to win scholarships, prizes and title of national champion. The competition was filmed at each school in March and premieres as the pilot of Clash of Trades in April to celebrate National Welding Month. Hosting the show is Stephanie Quayle, Big Sky Music Group recording artist, CMT "Next Women of Country" inductee and entrepreneur.
The teams from Danville Community College, Calhoun Community College, Tennessee College of Applied Technology, and Southwestern Illinois College were selected based on rigorous judging of a complex advanced manufacturing project and conclude the 2020 competition series that was delayed due to COVID-19. Each team is comprised of current or recently graduated students who are learning a skilled trade. The teams work together in a challenge that mirrors real-world, hands-on skillsets needed to succeed in advanced manufacturing.
The pilot episode of Clash of Trades premieres on YouTube on April 20, 2021, at 7 p.m CDT. The show will provide an engaging look at each team’s story and their approach to completing the challenge, which will be judged by a panel of expert judges and woven into the show format. The show intends to change the perception of the skilled trades by highlighting the stories of individuals entering the field and the high- tech, future-focused work being done in the U.S. manufacturing industry. Eligible trade students who register to view Clash of Trades on April 20 can enter a chance to win a $2500 scholarship (no purchase necessary, void where prohibited).
The manufacturing industry is experiencing exponential change and new technologies are not eliminating jobs as some predicted. Studies have found the reverse – more jobs are being created (2018 skills gap in manufacturing study). The skills gap may leave more than 2 million positions unfilled if more young people don’t enter the skilled trades. The US Department of Defense declared this deficit as one of the most vital challenges for the US defense industrial base.