June 15th, 2011
Joe Pietrantonio, SkillsUSA board member and vice president, Global Operations for Air Products and I were front and center for an announcement by President Obama on June 8 at Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria, Va. of the expansion of the “Skills for America’s Future Program.”
The partnership between Air Products and SkillsUSA is specifically referenced in the White House Press Release among six public-private partnerships to bolster the nation’s manufacturing workforce. Thanks to YDF member and former assistant secretary of labor, Emily DeRocco of the Manufacturing Institute, for her help in making the event a reality.
Tim Lawrence said he particularly appreciated the president’s statement that in America we have an “honorable tradition of folks working with their hands, creating value. That’s part of what built the American dream.” It’s also what builds the middle class. The president also spoke of a student who told him that the automotive training program he’d taken in community college was “the spark I needed to get my career started” and the president said we need to do much more to “light those sparks.” Along similar lines, the president said it was important for high school students to see the relevance of what they’re learning to their future careers.
President Obama commended SkillsUSA and the work it’s doing when he spoke with Tim after the speech.
The speech by President Obama is available at www.skillsusa.org/blog/?p=1675
The White House announcement is available at www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/06/08/president-obama-and-skills-americas-future-partners-announce-initiatives
June 15th, 2011
SkillsUSA has three super finalists for the Welding contestant spot on the SkillsUSA WorldTeam. In my estimation, any one of these students would be a great representative for the United States. On May 22-24, I attended an American Welding Society (AWS) Pre Weld-Off event in Mobile, Alabama. AWS is the primary sponsor of the SkillsUSA WorldTeam selection process, and the 2011 quadruple elimination process has been going on for several months now. The field has narrowed to: Alex Pazkowsk and Brad Clink from Michigan and Zack Brown from Mississippi.
Monday morning started with the introduction of the finalists followed by guest presenters, John Mendoza, AWS president and Lee Hammett and Mr. Hopper of Alabama Industrial Development Training – Maritime Training Center in Mobile. Mendoza presented on the image of welding and the opportunities for individuals to obtain a career in welding with the help of AWS and the scholarships that are awarded each year. Mr. Hopper presented on behalf of the AIDT program at the training center and talked about the facilities, training and career options the facility provides for the Gulf Coast region. Of course, I got in a few words too about SkillsUSA and how we help young men and women prepare for the workforce.
Following the opening event, there was an excellent professional development seminar conducted by David Hernandez that covered topics including professional development, stress management and public speaking. The seminar was designed specifically for the three finalists to help them mentally prepare for world-level competition. David will attend the national conference so he can do the same thing for all the members of the WorldTeam. Several advisors, industry partners and SkillsUSA students from the Gulf Region also participated in all the professional development training on Monday.
From Tuesday through Thursday, the three finalists worked in competition mode and were required to perform an assortment of weldments similar to those they’ll face in London during the 41st WorldSkills Competition. On Friday, all projects were turned in, inspected, and critiqued by three former world competitors and SkillsUSA alumni: Branden Muehlbrandt, Lincoln Electric, Nick Peterson, Miller Electric and Ray Connely, USA Welding Expert. The final AWS Weld-Off to select the WorldTeam Welding contestant will be held during national conference in Kansas City.