SkillsUSA has recently had great exposure on the NASCAR circuit. The Peyton Sellers car ran in the Nationwide Series on April 4 with the SkillsUSA logo prominently displayed on the rear quarters. On Sunday, April 5, I had the opportunity to witness the SkillsUSA logo run on the #48 Kobalt Tough Tools for Cool Schools car and Jimmie Johnson drove to a 2nd place finish. The highlight of my trip was an interview on the SPEED CHANNEL with alumna Wendy Venturini. Wendy is from North Carolina and was SkillsUSA’s national gold medalist in 1996 in the prepared speech competition in Kansas City. You can view the interview and see how great our logo looked on the car here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWcmbcxwPas.
Peyton Sellers showed his continued commitment to SkillsUSA as the keynote speaker at the SkillsUSA Georgia opening ceremony in Atlanta on April 16. Wendy Venturini has accepted our invitation to be a part of the NLSC opening ceremony on June 23.
The final tally is in, and I’m proud to say SkillsUSA has had the privilege of serving 304,067 high school and postsecondary/college students and their instructors this year. That number is an increase of nearly 3,500 members over last year, the largest membership year on record for the organization. When we add in alumni membership, we have a grand total of 313,180 members for the 2009-2010 school year!
On April 13, I was honored to participate in a special press conference at the corporate headquarters of Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. in Allentown, Pa. Local dignitaries attending included representatives from the Chamber of Commerce, the Lehigh Valley SkillsUSA Industry Council and a select group of Air Products employees. I was honored to introduce two students from the Lehigh Career and Technical Institute, Brittany Kistler, a Small Engines student and Smanatha Cancro, a Culinary Arts student. Brittany and Samantha spoke to the group and talked about the positive difference SkillsUSA had made in their lives. Laurie Gostly- Hackett and Youth Development Foundation member Lynn Scheitrum were key in organizing the event.
At the press conference, I announced that SkillsUSA has chosen John E. McGlade, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Air Products, to be the recipient of the inaugural SkillsUSA CEO Champion of the Year award. The CEO Champion award will be given each year to recognize the leadership of the chief executive of an organization doing exemplary work in the creation and support of America’s highly skilled workforce. The award will also recognize CEOs for their corporation’s involvement in promoting and supporting career and technical education.
Under McGlade’s leadership, Air Products has integrated support for SkillsUSA in a number of ways with employees from around the country serving on technical committees for the SkillsUSA Championships, and on task forces and boards of state and local SkillsUSA chapters in California, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Texas. Air Products’ employees are active in judging local, state and national student competitions, and with the SkillsUSA Youth Development Foundation. The company provides financial support for SkillsUSA initiatives such as the Professional Development Program, and is helping SkillsUSA build its national network through support of the Alumni & Friends Association. Yet another form of support from Air Products has been a best practice guidebook developed by employees to help the organization better forge business/education partnerships with career and technical schools around the country.
Two television stations covered the press conference and you can see a sample of the TV coverage of the event here: www.wfmz.com/news/23141916/detail.html
On April 16, I went to Hershey, Pennsylvania where I had a great time at the 44th annual SkillsUSA Pennsylvania State Conference. State Association Director Jeri Widdowson told me this was the largest conference held in the state since she became director. There were 1,400 registrants, but with volunteers she’s estimating there were 2,000 people in attendance. They had great competitions and some wonderful teachers. I shook hands with every medalist, and I also had a chance to visit with another champion, board of directors member, Gerald Tylka.
There’s a lot of movement in career and technical education (CTE) to capture a common vision of the role played by CTE in education and preparation for employment. As a matter of fact, there’s a lot of discussion that education, as a whole, should start to take on more aspects of CTE. That means students should be “college ready” (not requiring remediation at the postsecondary level) and “career ready” among many other things. The National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) has released a vision paper for the field, and I believe it is worthy of a great deal of discussion. The link to read it is http://careertech.org/show/new_vision.
The week of April 12th, the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) released a two-page definition of “Career Ready.” They say career readiness involves three major skill areas: academic skills (and the ability to apply those skills to concrete situations), employability skills and technical, job-specific skills. It’s an excellent addition to the discussion and certainly makes the case for CTE’s role in education overall, and by inference, the value of the student organizations. To give it a review, just click on http://acteonline.org/uploadedFiles/Publications_and_Online_Media/files/Career_Readiness_Paper.pdf.
Despite trying economic times, the shortage of skilled workers is more acute than ever, and we are seeking help to influence young people and their parents by encouraging your advisors’ students to post videos of their own real-world experiences with SkillsUSA on SkillsUSA’s Facebook page. We would like to gather testimonial videos from students and parents alike in an effort to use peer-to-peer marketing to make a real difference in the lives of young people across the country.
Ask them to interview one another about how they became involved in the SkillsUSA program, what they’ve learned through career and technical education programs, and how they’ve prepared themselves for the world of work. Encourage them to interview their parents as well. Ask them to post their videos through SkillsUSA’s online networks at SkillsUSA’s Facebook site.
Again, there will be a blood drive this year as part of the National Leadership and Skills Conference. The drive will be sponsored by the Kansas City Community Blood Center and held from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Bartle Hall, Room 2105 on Friday, June 25. Blood collected will be used in the Kansas City community, and they are very much in need of donations. At last year’s blood drive, 38 donors registered to try to donate and 24 pints were collected. There were 33 first time donors.
Note: Donors must weigh no less than 115 lbs and must be at least 17 years of age (or a donor can be 16 years of age with written parental permission).
So, whether you are involved in the Timberland community service event or the 5K Champions Run or another activity on Friday, please try to take the time during the day to stop by when you can and participate in this worthy cause and help save a life. Appointments can be made ahead of time at www.esavealifenow.org.
Please don’t forget to register for State Officer 101/201 and Advisor Training by the June 1 deadline. The 101 training is designed for high school students who are officers of their state associations and for students who are interested in becoming state officers. The 201 training is designated for college/postsecondary students who are officers of their state associations and for high school officers who have already attended 101 training. Advisors can also benefit from new advisor training that addresses the challenges of advising student leaders and how to effectively run your chapter.
SkillsUSA is moving forward with plans to enter as many as 20 competitors in the 2011 WorldSkills Competition (WSC), contingent upon financial support. To date, five competitors have been selected to compete in Autobody Repair, Automobile Technology, Cabinetmaking, Car Painting and Cooking. To have adequate time for training and preparation of the team members, competitors will be selected from the 2009 SkillsUSA Championships. This will begin the new process of selecting the WorldTeam members more than one year in advance. Competitors for the 2013 WSC competitions in Germany will be selected from the 2010 and 2011 national competitions. For information on SkillsUSA’s participation in the WSC, please visit www. skillsusa.org/compete/worldteam.shtml. Photos and information regarding the competitors and sponsors to date will be posted soon.
The next WorldSkills Competitions will be held October 5-8, 2011 and will be conducted at the ExCeL London Exhibition and Conference center in England. The event will see almost 1,200 competitors from 52 countries compete in skills ranging from Landscape Gardening, IT Cabling, Wall and Floor Tiling to Restaurant Service, Mechanical Engineering Design and Floristry. Planning is underway and specific information regarding the program, schedules, housing, etc., will be posted on the WorldSkills London 2011 Web site, www.worldskillslondon2011.com as it becomes available.
SkillsUSA has contracted with Jon C. Gonzalez to serve as WorldTeam National Fundraiser. Jon is president and CEO of DC Charity Events and a former Wall Street investment advisor. Jon has extensive fund raising and special event experience as well as fund-raising course work from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He will be working closely with Eric Gearhart and Ada Kranenberg to coordinate fund-raising efforts supporting SkillsUSA’s WorldTeam 2011.
Jon’s work should not be confused with the CEO Champion of the Year fund-raising dinner to be conducted in New York City in October. That effort seeks to raise unrestricted dollars for SkillsUSA’s mission.
Don Hatton will continue to serve as the Technical Delegate to WorldSkills International for the United States and Ada Kranenberg has returned as our Official Delegate to WorldSkills International. Mark Claypool will repeat his volunteer role as Team Leader.
SkillsUSA welcomes the following associations to this year’s NLSC: National Robotics League (NRL), Association for Skilled and Technical Sciences (ASTS), Automotive Service Association (ASA) and National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF). While supporting various aspects of the SkillsUSA conference, ASTS, NATEF and ASA will all hold association planning meetings as part of the week of conference.
NRL will be conducting its national robotics competition, scheduled for the Crown Center Exhibit hall connected to the Hyatt Crown Center. To get more information on this event, visit www.gonrl.org. The schedule of competition activities can be found along with more information on the robotics league.