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Alumni Coordinating Committee Nominations Needed

December 23rd, 2013

SkillsUSA is accepting nominations of qualified alumni for service on the Alumni Coordinating Committee. Nominations are being accepted for Regions 2 and 4, as well as the executive chair (who can be from any state).

All nominees must be active annual, lifetime or honorary life members in good standing of the SkillsUSA Alumni & Friends Association. In addition, a nominee must have been an active member for at least 12 months preceding the date of nomination. Nominations must be submitted to the national headquarters by April 15, 2014. You may nominate yourself or any alumni member in good standing. If you have questions, please email Heidi Walsh, hwalsh@skillsusa.org, 703-737-0615. For nomination guidelines, visit: www.skillsusa.org/supporters/alumni.shtml.

Alumni Pin Design Competition

December 22nd, 2013

SkillsUSA sponsors an alumni pin design competition that is open to all SkillsUSA registered alumni. This year, the winning design will become the official 50th Conference Commemorative pin for the 2014 SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference. The pin will be produced by the SkillsUSA Store and sold at the alumni booth. If you have questions, please contact Heidi Walsh at hwalsh@skillsusa.org. For contest details and rules, go to: www.skillsusa.org/downloads/PDF/AlumniPinDesign.pdf. All entries must be received (not postmarked) in the SkillsUSA national headquarters by the close of business on February 28, 2014.

Discount Travel for National Conference

December 21st, 2013

SkillsUSA has partnered with American Airlines for five percent off published fares, even sale prices, to attend the 2014 National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC) in Kansas City, Missouri (travel to/from Kansas City International Airport – MCI). This offer includes the travel dates between June 10-28, 2014. The authorization code is A7864DD.

There are several ways to book the discounted tickets.

  • To book online, go to: www.aa.com/group. This is for AA/AE flights only and there will be no ticketing charge. Please allow for at least one business hour for AA.com loading. Use the authorization code without the preceding A (7864DD) as the AA.com promotion code.
  • Tickets may also be purchased through the agency of record, or by calling American Airlines Meeting Services at 1-800-433-1790. For American Airlines ticketing, the form of payment must be made by money order, certified/cashier check or with a valid credit card. A separate $25 service charge will apply per ticket (this is subject to change). If booking through a travel agency, please let them know they need to provide the following statement in the general facts field of the PNR: AA Contract Booking A7864DD. Failure to provide this information will result in auto-cancellation of the space.

This offer is valid for percentage discount travel where American Airlines, American Eagle, AmericanConnection, codeshare and all oneworld Alliance Partners (collectively “American Airlines”) provide service. Travel is not valid on codeshare flights operated by Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air, WestJet, Cape Air, JetStar Airways or Qatar Airways. This offer is not valid in conjunction with any other discount.

 

Call for SkillsUSA Talent Reminder

December 21st, 2013

SkillsUSA Call for TalentDo you have a talented singer in your state who would enjoy a special performance opportunity? SkillsUSA seeks talented singers for the Opening Ceremony or Awards Ceremony during the 2014 SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference. We are looking for a SkillsUSA student or professional member to sing the national anthem or another patriotic song appropriate for opening special sessions. Singers may sing a capella or to a pre-recorded instrumental track. Audition tapes must be the singing of the national anthem.

Send in all audition videotapes of the national anthem only on CD or DVD, postmarked by February 1, 2014 to: Heidi Walsh, SkillsUSA, 14001 SkillsUSA Way, Leesburg, VA 20176.  Questions may be directed to Heidi at 703-737-0615 or hwalsh@skillsusa.org.

National Youth Safety Video Contest Reminder

December 20th, 2013

CareerSafe, Safety Education for America’s Future, is sponsoring the 2013-2014 National Youth Safety Video Contest. Students across the country are challenged to create a two-minute video demonstrating safety in the workplace. The contest kicked off on October 15, and all submissions should be sent into CareerSafe by March 1, 2014. The winning students will receive a SkillsUSA Prize Pack as well as a scholarship up to $2,500, and the winning school will receive a prize up to $5,000. For more information on the contest, please visit the CareerSafe website at: www.careersafeonline.com.

 

 

 

Executive Director’s Report: December 15

December 15th, 2013

It’s Fall Leadership Development Time
Each fall, we kick off leadership development activities for our students and teachers with the annual Washington Leadership Training Institute (WLTI) in D.C. in September and then look to our states to continue the leadership momentum with fall leadership conferences happening in nearly every state and territory during October and November. WLTI 2013 set new participation records with nearly 380 SkillsUSA students and teachers participating and each of them making visits with their elected representatives in Congress.

Several states are setting new records at their fall events as well and on November 13-15, I participated in a dynamic Ohio Fall Leadership Conference (FLC) in Columbus. If I could use one word to describe the experience it was “inspiring.” Whenever I spend time with state and regional student officers, great advisors and administrators and state association directors like Mike Cowles, it truly drives home the work we do. These kinds of SkillsUSA events always remind me why our work is so important to schools, communities and our nation, and it never fails to be inspirational when I see our mission in action.

As a part of my visit to Columbus, I was honored to be invited as the keynote speaker for approximately 80 CTE administrators from across Ohio at the Fall OTIESA Conference. My topic was “Building Better Lives — One at a Time.” I shared updated workforce development numbers and the latest poll data on our students nationwide. The administrators asked for the data and my presentation so they could use it for presentations in their local school divisions. I left behind the full presentation and supporting video to be posted with Web access for all of them to use. The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) was also very well represented at both the OTIESA meeting and at the fall leadership conference, and it was great to spend time with our Ohio corporate member, Linda O’Conner, and several other ODE representatives.

Later on the morning of November 14, I was the opening ceremony keynote speaker for over 1,100 students at teachers at the fall leadership conference, held at the Hyatt Columbus. It’s always awesome to see that many students in red blazers in the audience! Following the opening, students and teachers rotated through a series of leadership workshops and presentations by student officers and outside experts. Following the student sessions, I presented a national update to approximately 100 advisors and provided them the latest on our strategic direction. SkillsUSA Ohio is doing a very nice job of aligning their vision and strategy with that of Vision 2020 and national strategic objectives.

On November 15, SkillsUSA Ohio had 121 regional officer candidates campaign for just over 40 regional leadership positions. There were hundreds of voting delegates from each Ohio region in place to hear campaign speeches and vote for their new leadership. The delegate sessions ended with election results and a full formal candlelight installation ceremony for the newly elected officers. Also, during the day, over 400 students participated in mock job interviews with 38 business professionals and military officers who volunteered to interview the students (modeled after our national TAG Tuesday event at NLSC). This entire event was an impressive display of student leadership and participation in the core leadership component of SkillsUSA. I want to commend state director, Mike Cowles, and his team from ODE for inspiring so many students to be actively involved.

My next stop was at the Central PA FLC in Gettysburg, Pa. On November 21, I accompanied 235 students and 60 advisors on visits to the state capitol and education department in Harrisburg. Some state officials and legislators attended the opening dinner, and I delivered the keynote address, reinforcing the importance of leadership and advocacy at all levels. Again, it was great to see our state and district leaders follow our national model (this advocacy event has been patterned after WLTI).

And, Ohio and Pennsylvania weren’t the only states reporting strong participation. We asked state associations how their fall leadership conferences are going, and, so far, we’ve received 25 responses. Many are seeing an increase in attendance. Iowa, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington postsecondary and West Virginia all report increases. Many have reported that participation is about the same — and a few have reported a decrease. Here are a couple highlights to note: Kathy Gillman from West Virginia reported that they held their first fall leadership conference in more than 15 years, and she said, “It was fabulous!,” and Andrew Sims from Mississippi saw a participation increase from 330 to 730 — a 127 percent increase.

Forum to Raise Awareness about the Need to Prepare Students
Kelly Horton traveled to the Rhode Island Fall Leadership Conference and then on to Massachusetts for their fall leadership event. While in Massachusetts, she participated in a forum on November 21 at the Norwood, Massachusetts campus of Universal Technical Institute. The purpose of the forum was to help raise awareness about the need for greater collaboration between industry and education in creating curricula that prepare students with the relevant skills needed to achieve employment. To view a PR Newswire article about the forum, go to: www.fox54.com/story/23996133/universal-technical-institute-norwood-campus-hosts-new-england-skills-gap-expo-solutions-through-stem.

Congressional Briefing on Perkins
On November 12, Eric Gearhart, director of Research and Foundation Relations at SkillsUSA, Kim Green, executive director of the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) and Johan Uvin, deputy assistant secretary of education for the Office of Vocational and Adult Education participated in a Congressional briefing on the Carl D. Perkins Act. The hearing was hosted by the bipartisan Congressional Career Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, and provided information on Perkins and CTE. Policymakers, their staff and other relevant stakeholders attended, totaling about 50 people.

Deputy Assistant Secretary Uvin began the discussion by framing his remarks around a recent OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) which found that adults in the United States are lagging behind their peers internationally for literacy, numeracy, and problem solving. Uvin argued that CTE is one of the best ways to address this problem. He contended that improving the delivery system and ensuring consistent quality of CTE programs throughout the United States was an important task that the reauthorization process for Perkins must address.

Eric organized his remarks through the perspective of the students SkillsUSA, along with other Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs), serve on a daily basis. He pointed out that CTE is a great strategy for student engagement and “is essential to enfranchising students throughout the country.” He emphasized the mutually beneficial relationship between businesses and CTE programs and argued for tax incentives for the private sector to help encourage these connections.

Kim Green spoke about the history surrounding the Perkins Act, areas in current law that are being considered for improvement and other insights into the reauthorization process. She also highlighted NASDCTEc’s recent national report  on individual state CTE standards. Green linked the report’s findings to the overall discussion on how to leverage federal investments from the Perkins Act to continue promoting innovation and improving the quality of CTE programs throughout the country.

Staffing Changes at the National Office
Finally, there are some staffing changes at the national office. I am very pleased to report that, after releasing the job announcement for a new director of our Business Partnerships and Development (BPD) Office, SkillsUSA has hired Kelly Persons as our new BPD director. Kelly has an amazing background in fundraising, grant and foundation work. Her experience includes work with Habitat for Humanity, the AARP Foundation and the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation. Kelly will bring a dynamic new perspective to our staff and development efforts.

And, sadly, Eric Gearhart, director of Research and Foundation Relations at SkillsUSA will be leaving to explore some other career interests and opportunities on January 1. He will continue to manage a couple ongoing BPD projects for us on a consulting basis, so we will see Eric in our building from time to time, after the New Year, but not as a full-time staff member.

Other Highlights

  • Julie Kantor, chief partnership officer at STEMconnector, who attended the 2013 NLSC, has written many times since about SkillsUSA. She has written another article, published in the Huffington Post. See it here : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/julie-kantor/teachers-its-time-to-make-it-real_b_4239780.html. I especially like the following quote from the article—”It’s so basic. When you make it real, applicable to real life, you touch the hearts and minds of America’s youth and young workforce. Make it hands on, and show young people the correlation to real life and they will learn way more and advance academically.”
  • On November 16-17, I was invited to visit Haskell Company in Jacksonville, Fla. and meet with Vice President Boyd Worsham (national technical committee chairman for carpentry) and others from the commercial construction industry, including Steve and Diane Greene and SkillsUSA Foundation member, Ed Prevatt, from NCCER. It was also a great time to socialize over dinner aboard the Haskell Company boat “Casamia” and cruise the St. John’s River and see a Jacksonville Jaguars football game from the Haskell Suite. Haskell was the designer and builder of this NFL stadium as well as several high-rise buildings that make up the Jacksonville skyline.
  • In preparation for the move to Louisville, Ky., Dave Worden reports that their department has met with some of local groups like the IBEW, the Carpenters Apprenticeships Training Council and the Teamsters about their potential support for the 2015 conference in Louisville; a warehouse has been secured in Louisville about five miles from the Expo Center; and, the Louisville contest floor locations mapping is approximately 75% complete.
  • The next WorldSkills Competition will be held in Sao Paulo, Brazil from August 11-16, 2015 and the first two members of WorldTeam have been chosen. They are Jacob Wozniak in Cabinetmaking from Springville, N.Y. and Michael Mullen in Auto Service Technology from San Luis Obispo, Calif.
  • Work continues on the www.SkillsUSA.org redesign. The website inventory process is now complete, and a preliminary site map is being reviewed. Wireframes (the skeletal framework of the website) will be ready soon. Usability testing is scheduled for Dec. 16-17 and Jan. 6.
  • We’re moving ahead quickly with the strategic communications audit that covers all print and electronic vehicles for our members. The research firm is reviewing many items to understand what we’re currently doing, including SkillsUSA’s mission statement, strategic plan, organizational structure, research reports, business plans for communications, membership data and, of course, samples of everything all our departments send out. Interviews with staff directors were conducted to review our communications/marketing structure and develop the research instrument used with local members. The end goal: timely, high-quality and valuable content that better aligns with student and advisor needs.

That’s all for now. Happy Holidays. Thanks for all you do for the great students and teachers we serve.

President Obama’s $100 million Initiative Will Award Grants to Programs Teaching Industry-Relevant Skills

December 13th, 2013

President Barack Obama recently unveiled a $100 million competition aimed at finding new ways to better prepare high-school students for the global high-tech economy.

The program, Youth CareerConnect, will award 25 to 40 grants next year for high schools to team up with higher-education institutions and employers, creating innovative programs that give students industry-relevant education and job skills. Grants would range from $2 million to $7 million. Applicants will be required to pony up matching funds of at least 25 percent.

The closing date for applications is January 27, 2014. For more information, go to: www.doleta.gov/ycc.

Gene Haas Foundation Machining Technology Scholarship

December 13th, 2013

The Gene Haas Foundation Machining Technology Scholarship helps ease the financial burden of qualified students who are interested in machine operation and maintenance coursework.

Graduating high school seniors, GED recipients and displaced workers (anyone unemployed or looking to change their career) who want to pursue an associate degree or technology certificate in machining, are eligible for the one-year scholarship. Award amounts will range from $1,000 to $2,500 for each scholarship, depending on the cost of the applicants program. Currently the scholarship is available to United States residents only.

The online application for the Gene Haas Machining Technology Scholarship for the 2013-2014 academic year is currently available and will remain open until funds are exhausted. Click here for instructions and access to the application. If your computer has spam protection, or a firewall that blocks bulk emails, please add foundation@sme.org to your contacts or whitelist.

 

Seeking STEM Alumni

December 12th, 2013

Success with an Associate Degree Workforce experts, Carleen MacKay, and Cari Lyn Vinci are collaborating on a ‘Playbook’ to incorporate into a career and life planning program to help teenage girls. They want to interview successful young women (under 30) with an associate degree in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) industries. They will then incorporate their stories and their advice to inform and motivate teenage girls.

If you were in a STEM program and were a member of SkillsUSA, or if you know of someone who was, contact Heidi Walsh no later than January 10, 2014, at hwalsh@skillsusa.org.

Stay Connected

December 12th, 2013

Help your graduating students stay connected to valuable industry contacts and potential employment by having them register as SkillsUSA alumni. It’s free, easy and open to all high school and college/postsecondary members. Have students go to: www.skillsusa.org/supporters/alumni.shtml. By registering, alumni members are sent a link to our online SkillsUSA Champions magazine, a quarterly newsletter, as well as social networking that could lead to new opportunities and jobs. Please encourage your students to register now!

SkillsUSA sponsors an alumni pin design competition that is open to all SkillsUSA registered alumni. This year, the winning design will become the official 50th Conference Commemorative pin for the 2014 SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference. The pin will be produced by the SkillsUSA Store and sold at the alumni booth. If you have questions, please contact Heidi Walsh at hwalsh@skillsusa.org. For contest details and rules, go to: www.skillsusa.org/downloads/PDF/AlumniPinDesign.pdf


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