Sixteen students traveled to the WorldSkills Competition in Calgary on August 29, and they returned home on September 8. The 11 days in competition with 50 other countries from across the globe was intense, and our team performed well. We are so proud of ALL of them! WorldTeam members came home with two silver medallions and four Medallions for Excellence (at least 500 out of a maximum 600 points). The information on the team is located at www.skillsusa.org/compete/worldteamres.shtml.
The time in Calgary was a whirlwind of experiences and meetings. Here are just a few memorable events: On August 28, I was in Washington, D.C. with the WorldTeam where we had meetings at the U.S. Department of Education including a visit with the Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter. We also had meetings at the U.S. Department of Labor including Deputy Assistant Secretary Gerri Fiala and a great briefing at the Canadian Embassy. We finished up the afternoon with a visit to Senator Mike Enzi’s office and a tour of the Capitol. There’s no doubt, we should make federal visits with the WorldTeam a regular part of the program. Our students were excellent representatives.
On our first night in Calgary, we held a dinner to honor the entire SkillsUSA WorldTeam. Youth Development Foundation members, board members and other guests attended. We had nearly 50 people in attendance. Thanks go to Snap-on and IRWIN for sponsoring the event.
The Canadian Prime Minister spoke during the Opening Ceremony, and he took the occasion to make a commitment for all kinds of government incentives to support the skilled trades in Canada. President of WorldSkills International Tjerk Dusseldorp in his remarks quoted and lauded President Obama’s stated commitment to community colleges. He saw it as a refocus on the importance of preparing a skilled work force for any nation. And, I’m pleased to say that a video of Jack Frederick, our automotive service contestant from Kansas was shown during the Opening Ceremony.
I also had meetings with Laurent Thibault, treasurer of WorldSkills International and Simon Bartley who is heading up WorldSkills London 2011. Both of them attended the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference this year, and both were totally impressed. Simon said: “What you have in SkillsUSA is not an event; what you have is a movement and that’s where WorldSkills International is heading.” He also told me “When you come to London in 2011, you’ll see students running things on stage not the typical adult leadership from WorldSkills.”
Tjerk Dusseldorp also spoke to me about wanting SkillsUSA to participate in the SkillsAmerica competition in Brazil in 2010, and I had meetings with executives from Fluke and Cisco regarding future support for the WorldTeam.
A big thank you to everyone who supported the 2009 SkillsUSA WorldTeam. We had state directors, teachers, parents and industry partners in Canada. We were proud to have approximately 100 Americans there – a much larger delegation than normal. Special thanks to staff members Ada Kranenberg and Eric Gearhart, to USA official delegate Peter Carey, team leader Mark Claypool, technical delegates, Don Hatton and Jack Sukala and to the fifteen technical experts who guided the students’ training and served as USA judges.