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Conferences Keep Springing Up All Over

May 1st, 2011

The smiles of students and instructors are everywhere during SkillsUSA state conferences this spring, along with the cheers of state student officers taking on new offices and the looks of deep concentration on the faces of student contestants. National staff is on the road cheering our students and teachers on and delighting in the work of our state associations. Attendance across all conferences appears to be level or slightly higher than last year. Something else we’ve all noticed: state dignitaries are attending our conferences as well and state directors of CTE are much in evidence. People are paying attention to what our students are doing.

On March 31, I spoke during the Rhode Island Awards and Recognition Ceremony. The featured speaker was Charles Fogarty, director of the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training. Vanessa Cooley, Rhode Island CTE director also attended. Josh Klemp and his team put on the high-quality conference Rhode Island is known for. The next morning, I enjoyed a great culinary program breakfast at the Providence Center and Technical Academy, an absolutely amazing school. One of the real thrills, though, was being served by two students who had won medallions the evening before. They were still wearing them, and their faces were just beaming.

From April 4 – 6, I was a special guest at the Kentucky Leadership Conference and SkillsUSA Championships in Louisville. Beth Brinly, commissioner of the Workforce Investment Cabinet was a featured speaker during the opening ceremony as was John Marks, the executive director of the Office of Career and Technical Education. Among the many things Steve Phillippi, Kentucky state association director can be proud of is the $3 million in scholarships offered SkillsUSA students every year.

Staff members have been visiting state conferences as well, including, Maine, Nevada, Texas, Virginia, Utah and Missouri. At the Missouri conference the keynote speaker was the secretary of education who said high schools should be working more closely with CTE programs.

Youth Development Foundation Advocacy Makes History

May 1st, 2011

On April 6 – 7, the Youth Development Foundation Committee held its spring meeting in Washington, D.C. hosted by committee member Emily DeRocco, president of the Manufacturing Institute and held in the offices of the National Association of Manufacturers. Thirteen of the committee members attended and the meetings were chaired by Greg Rintala, Snap-on Industrial. New members on the YDF committee this meeting were Tim Humes, Carhartt, Inc., Jim Bohn, Robert Bosch Tool Corporation and Laurie Gostley-Hackett of Air Products.

The business meeting on April 6 focused on activities of the foundation, the SkillsUSA strategic plan for FY12, the CEO Champion of the Year dinner and an update on the SkillsUSA WorldTeam. In addition, there was discussion of progress for the SkillsUSA Alumni & Friends Association, the Work Force Ready System and membership marketing initiatives.

Jay Timmons, the new president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers addressed the group on NAM’s dedication to workforce development for the 21st century and its interests in federal policy affecting regulations, taxes and energy supply. He highlighted the Manufacturing Institute’s recent paper “Roadmap to Education Reform for Manufacturing” and how important a skilled manufacturing workforce is to America’s economic future. SkillsUSA is referenced twice in the report. Here is the link: http://institute.nam.org/view/The_Manufacturing_Institute_Releases_Roadmap_for_E/info

On April 7, 11 of the YDF members did something they’d never done before as a committee: they went to Capitol Hill to talk with policymakers. Their message was clear, the nation faces workforce shortages and skill gaps, and policymakers should pay attention to and build upon what works. By that, they meant SkillsUSA and CTE and they invited Members of Congress to national conference to show them how it works.

Small delegations from the YDF and national staff met with: Brenda Dann-Messier, assistant secretary, Office of Vocational and Adult Education and members of her staff; staff from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee; staff from the Senate Commerce Committee; and then delegations and individuals met with staff from 13 additional congressional offices with Representatives and Senators from 11 states. Many of the visits were with offices where the Member of Congress is on an appropriations committee, education committee or tied to manufacturing either through a committee or caucus.

Foundation members were so pleased by the response that they want to do Hill visits again next year and perhaps make this an annual event. They’re currently following up with their congressional offices and they have found in many instances the Senators of Representatives are interested in attending or building events back in the states. This was a great start to what I believe can be an important new initiative for SkillsUSA, CTE and industry.

Highlights

May 1st, 2011
  • The final membership count is in. Regular membership totals 300,985 and alumni membership is 19,302 for a grand total of 320,287. The final membership report is being printed.
  • And, I recently had the opportunity to appear on the radio program The Money Pit. It is a nationally syndicated, call-in radio show that helps listeners with their home repair and improvement problems. You canĀ  listen to a podcast of the interview here: http://www.skillsusa.org/blog/?p=1560. The Money Pit has consistently been named among “America’s 100 Most Important Radio Shows” by Talkers magazine. It’s been on the air for over ten years, and is now carried on over 260 radio affiliates across the nation, as well as on XM satellite radio. Each week, Tom Kraeutler and Leslie Segrete take dozens of calls from listeners who ask about everything from pest problems to deck dilemmas. Their combined experience and expertise allow them to offer solutions to a wide range of problems immediately. If they aren’t sure how to help, which is rare, they can always point callers in the right direction.

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