In order to help close the skills gap and raise awareness of career options in the skilled trades, Newport Area Career and Technical Center (NACTC) and Kirby Perkins Construction, participated in SkillsUSA National Signing Day Sponsored by Klein Tools, celebrating thousands of high school seniors across the country pursuing a career in the skilled trades. NACTC was one of approximately 300 schools across the U.S. participating in National Signing Day, which recognized over 2,500 students nationwide.

“We are thrilled we were able to partner with SkillsUSA and Klein Tools’ for the first-ever National Signing Day,” says Robert Young, Director of NACTC in a prepared statement. “As the shortage of skilled workers worsens, we at NACTC encourage students to enter this rewarding industry upon graduation. Niall Walsh, our NACTC student, should be very proud of everything he has accomplished at NACTC as he continues to further his education and training post-graduation. We wish him all the best as he prepares for his lifelong career.”

Niall Walsh

In a style similar to “National Signing Day” events for high school student athletes, a senior at NACTC, Niall Walsh was recognized as he signed his “letter of intent” for a job offer at Kirby Perkins Construction.  Niall  was celebrated among school administrators, teachers, SkillsUSA advisors, Jerry Kirby from Kirby Perkins Construction, family and friends, as he takes the next step in his  education in construction technology.  Our student also received a Klein Tools Signing Kit, which included a hat, t-shirt, and his first pair of Klein Tools pliers to begin his lifelong career.

“This was an exciting day for our students as they committed to careers in the skilled trades,” says Holly Blasbalg, SkillsUSA advisor at NACTC in the statement. “Our student worked hard over the years to prepare for this next chapter of his life. Through their education at NACTC, our students understand the hard work needed to be successful in the trades. This recognition is very well deserved to each and every one of them.”

“The first National Signing Day was a success thanks to NACTC and its students,” says Mark Klein, co-president of Klein Tools in a statement. “Best of luck to these students as they enter the skilled trades to start their careers with their first pair of Klein Tools pliers.”

The objective of the Construction Technology program is to instruct students to become competent individuals in the field of construction. The knowledge gained spans a wide spectrum with proficiencies ranging from the use of hand and power tools, equipment and materials, construction of residential structures, renovations, and minor electrical and plumbing. This course offers a solid foundation for a career in construction or as a stepping-stone to other trades. Students will be prepared for post-secondary education or training. Students will be granted a certification or credits by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER). Co-operative education opportunities in the construction field are available, if you are interested contact the program instructor Brian Ferreira at for information about commercial and residential projects. 

For more information on National Signing Day, visit:

For more information on NACTC, visit:

Ryan Belmore is the Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here -

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at and 401-662-1653.