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National Young Worker Safety Day

April 30th, 2013

CareerSafe logoNational Young Worker Safety Day (NYWSD) kicks off Tuesday, June 25, 2013, at 9 a.m. at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City. As part of the larger campaign, “A Million Safer,” led by CareerSafe, NYWSD is targeted at making a significant and critical impact on decreasing the number of young worker injuries and fatalities in the United States. At the CareerSafe  booth (booth C) at SkillsUSA TECHSPO, students and teachers will sign the pledge to “StartSafe. StaySafe” just like more than 4,000 others who made the same pledge on NWYSD in 2012.

Students will also have an opportunity to participate in interactive safety games and win great prizes that will further teach the importance of young worker safety training. In addition, students and teachers will have the opportunity to gather valuable safety materials and ask experienced CareerSafe staff about safety-related questions and concerns.

SkillsUSA’s Amazing Race

April 30th, 2013

SkillsUSA's Amazing RaceSkillsUSA’s Amazing Race will take place on Wednesday, June 26, 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. in connection with SkillsUSA TECHSPO during the NLSC in Kansas City. This program will be similar to the TV show where participants are challenged to perform various tasks and move quickly through the SkillsUSA TECHSPO territory in order to learn more about exhibitors and win prizes. In addition, SkillsUSA’s Amazing Race will provide interactive fun for students and adults. The passport will be distributed through the state delegation conference materials included at the registration appointments at the beginning of the week.

Conference Registration Requirements

April 30th, 2013

To participate in official conference meetings and events, all attendees (advisors included) must register for the conference. A registration fee ($140) is required in order to obtain the official conference badge that allows access to SkillsUSA conference opening and awards ceremonies, contestant meetings and debriefings, seminars, delegate sessions and planned entertainment.

CPR Certification at National Conference

April 30th, 2013

The SkillsUSA Alumni & Friends Association is proud to offer CPR certification during the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference on Tuesday, June 25 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Kansas City Downtown Marriott, Truman Room B. Online preregistration is required of all participants at:

Certification cost is $20.

NTHS Scholarship winners announced

April 30th, 2013

NTHS logoWinners of the 2013 National Technical Honor Society scholarships have been announced. Each will receive a $1,000 scholarship from NTHS.

They are:

  • Steven Rickards, (Electronics Systems Technology) Technical College High School, Brandywine, Pa.
  • Amanda Stevenson (Cosmetology), Lebanon (Pa.) County Career and Technology Center
  • Timara Talley, (Entrepreneurship) Richmond (Va.) Technical Center, Richmond
  • John Wagner, (Management Information Systems) Watertown (Wis.) High School

The National Technical Honor Society (NTHS) scholarship presentation will take place on Tuesday, June 25 , at 2 p.m. during the joint delegate session in the Imperial Ballroom of the Marriott Downtown Hotel, 200 W. 12th Street, Kansas City, Mo.

SkillsUSA has teamed up with the National Technical Honor Society (NTHS) to promote outstanding student achievement within career and technical education. SkillsUSA is encouraging chapters to consider participation in the honor society as part of their annual program of work. For more information about NTHS, visit this link.

Creative Craftsmanship Challenge, by LIQUID NAILS Adhesive

April 25th, 2013

Liquid Nails logoCalling the construction pros of tomorrow:  Put the tips and tricks you’ve learned to work for you today. Tell us your best and most creative uses for LIQUID NAILS Brand adhesives in a brief essay containing no more than 200 words. Eight qualifying entrants will each receive a $400 travel scholarship to help them attend the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City, Missouri, June 25 to 27. Entries must be received via email by May 10, 2013.

Get rules and entry details here.

All Pathways Lead to Harvard

April 15th, 2013

On March 17-19, I participated in a national gathering in Cambridge, Mass: “Creating Pathways to Prosperity – a Direction Setting Conference at Harvard University.” More than 400 educators, researchers, business leaders, economists, and civil stakeholders convened at Harvard to consider the possibility of expanding career pathways in school systems across the country. The catalyst for the conference was the February 2013 report from the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) titled, Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young Americans for the 21st Century.

I was pleased to be invited to this conference by Harvard’s Bill Symonds (Bill also attended NLSC in 2012 and participated in our Champion of the Year dinner in Washington, D.C. last September). The kick-off speaker for the conference was SkillsUSA’s Champion of the Year and Snap-on Chairman and CEO Nick Pinchuk. A quote from Nick that I really loved: “The United States is in a global economic war and the best weapon we have is career and technical education.” SkillsUSA was also very well represented by board member, Kathy Mannes, who spoke on a panel that addressed what high quality postsecondary education should look like. Kathy spoke passionately about quality postsecondary programs including SkillsUSA as a method of delivering employability skills training. We also had great comments from several other business partners and colleagues from both education and government.

One of the highlights for me was the Young Leaders Forum, where five young adults spoke of their success. We had great student representation from Dineen Tetreault, former SkillsUSA state vice president from Massachusetts. Dineen has climbed the ladder of success, received a B.A. from Worcester University, managed a nursing facility, and she now heads her own marketing firm. She credited much of her success to SkillsUSA, her state director and her chapter mentors from Blackstone Valley Regional Technical High School. Dr. Mike Fitzpatrick, superintendent of Blackstone, also participated as a speaker on the topic of “Providing High Quality High School Programs.” He cited SkillsUSA as a key component of the Massachusetts education system and used several slides showing SkillsUSA activities (and lots of students in red blazers).

Many attendees made the case that the United States can no longer ignore the huge mismatch that exists between the skills students learn in school and the needs of the modern workforce. Several speakers noted that the college-for-all movement has led to widespread dropouts within high school and postsecondary education, college graduates lacking the skills required by employers, and a lack of workers with the high-tech skills essential to the economic development of the United States. Instead, evidence was presented that career pathways prepare all students to be career and college ready and can lead students to higher levels of success as adults. Relevant career pathways open up options for students that the traditional high school and college systems cannot or have not provided in the past.

During the conference, attendees shared their strategies, commitments and experiences for expanding the multiple pathways approach. Some see the need to prepare career-ready students as an economic issue, some see it as an issue of equity or social justice, and others view it as a national security issue. Regardless of the philosophical orientation, the participants in the many panels agreed that a more relevant, engaging and pragmatic approach is needed to prepare students for employment and careers.

Given that students are competing globally with graduates from other countries, it was emphasized that students must acquire the knowledge, skills and dispositions to help innovate and create new technologies and approaches. Without commitments from business and education to change local, state, and national policies and systems, there is doubt that the full economic potential of our country or wide-spread sustainable wages can be attained in the foreseeable future.

Many presentations supported career and technical education (CTE) as an essential foundational element of creating the pathways needed to truly transform education systems. To assist in moving the pathways movement forward, Harvard’s Dr. Ron Ferguson announced the creation of the Pathways to Prosperity Network. The network is a collaboration between the Pathways to Prosperity Project at HGSE, Jobs for the Future (JFF), and six states focused on ensuring that many more young people complete high school, attain a postsecondary credential with currency in the labor market and launch into a career while leaving open the prospect of further education.

My big take away from the gathering at Harvard was this statement by Dr. Ron Ferguson, “We’ve been discussing this issue for over 20 years. It’s now time to stop talking. It’s time to act – it’s time to start a national movement.” I fully agree that I’ve heard some of these same discussions for several years. The difference this time was that the Harvard Graduate School of Education was leading the conversation. This lends great credibility to the business we’re in, and I truly that this movement will help us build the value case for the work we do in SkillsUSA. Finally, Harvard will produce a report on what was learned at this gathering and, from that report, will launch a national Pathways campaign. They have also contracted with a Boston marketing firm to begin a national ad campaign around the pathways issue. To read more, go to:

Thanks to Dr. Patrick Ainsworth, retired CTE director from the California Department of Education, for his portion of this report.

American Technical Education Association (ATEA) National Conference in Chattanooga

April 15th, 2013

On March 20-21, I was thrilled to be a part of the 50th ATEA National Conference in Chattanooga, Tenn. The conference attendance was approximately 1,000. It was a great showcase for Board of Directors’ President James King and the Tennessee Technology Centers (TCC) technical education system. James spoke to the opening and awards sessions and highlighted the many successes of TTC. The system is a national model for postsecondary retention and completion. I was the keynote speaker for the ATEA awards luncheon on the 21st and also presented a report on the Harvard Pathways to Prosperity Conference in a concurrent session. James King and the TTC System also presented several awards to outstanding educators and supporters. The highlight of the awards presentation was the Outstanding Student Award. I was very proud to see this prestigious award presented to Mary Kamuiru, an esthetics student at The Tennessee Technology Center in Chattanooga and SkillsUSA’s national college/postsecondary secretary. Along with the new award and a chance to speak to the ATEA audience about her path to success, Mary was also thrilled to win a brand new car – a 2013 Chevy Spark. TCC has made the new car presentation an annual tradition for the outstanding student.

Video highlights from the conference are here:

State Leadership and Skills Conference in Full Swing

April 15th, 2013

I had a great time participating at the Mississippi SLSC about a month ago. I then went to the California SLSC on April 3 and then on to Wisconsin the following week. It is such an exciting time of year for SkillsUSA and hundreds of thousands of students, teachers and partners across the nation. And it’s a wonderful time for me and every staff member who participates in our state events. There’s no better place to see the excitement of our program manifest. And, speaking of state conferences, the SkillsUSA Georgia SLSC saw incredible attendance, and it was captured on streaming video and archived for viewing by U.S. Education TV. We have contracted with the same production company to stream highlights of our NLSC this year, including the entire opening and awards ceremonies, the Championships and other major conference events and activities. We’re excited about this new process.

To view highlights of the Georgia SLSC, go to the following link. I know you’ll be impressed:


April 15th, 2013
  • We have worked with Youth Development Foundation Committee member Cameron Ferguson and Caterpillar Inc. to confirm that Mike Rowe will indeed be our keynote speaker at the 2013 NLSC Opening Ceremony. CAT will also sponsor the Opening Ceremony and Ribbon Cutting and Dave Bozeman, CAT Vice President of Manufacturing will address the audience at the ceremony. Dave was also a presenter at the Harvard conference. A press release on the event was sent out on April 3. Here is the link:
  • Staff reports that the State Certified Trainer training in Denver, Colo. on March 15-16 went very well. Eight advisors and one state director attended and the participants came from six states. Wyoming participated for the first time. The participants were all excited about receiving the new materials and looked forward to sharing what they had learned with their states.
  • Staff traveled to Atlanta to work with Gayle Silvey on membership strategies for next school year.
  • Staff traveled to the Texas High School State Conference in Corpus Christi, April 4-6 to work with alumni initiatives.

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