- On the advocacy front and use of social media, SkillsUSA posted an alert and a sample letter about federal funding for Perkins on our website before Labor Day. we posted an announcement on September 12 with our followers on Facebook, LinkedIn and Tumblr. On Facebook, we used the ACTE infographic on CTE Funding. As of September 26, the links had been shared 64 times and over 6,956 people have seen the post. And, we have the final numbers for government offices reached following national conference with the names of winners. We wrote to 98 U.S. Senators, 289 U.S. Representatives (that’s two-thirds of the House) and 49 governors plus one territorial governor. We’re getting replies from congressional offices, some talking about setting up school visits when they’re back in the districts.
- A September 11 posting by David Hoey, CEO of WorldSkills International praises the work of Patrick Klarecki, our chief expert in Print Media Technology, and Bruce Kenworthy for winning the Sustainability Award during the WorldSkills competition. The Sustainability Award is a big deal at WorldSkills and we commend Pat and his technical committee for being models of how to reduce waste, reuse and recycle. For further information, go to: http://tinyurl.com/qf8es2r.
- Staff reported that the new membership hotline that assists teachers in starting a new chapter, discovering ways to engage more members and strategies to strengthen their existing chapters, is enjoying a surge of activity. We’re currently tracking 337 teachers and will continue to provide support to these teachers in anticipation that it will lead to membership registration and a stronger chapter structure. To date, 69 percent of callers are teachers that are currently non-advisors and are learning about SkillsUSA for the first time in their quest to take the lead of an existing chapter or start a new chapter. A large number of callers, 39 percent in fact, are starting a brand new SkillsUSA chapter.
- I’m happy to welcome Joe Morgan of the Kentucky Department of Education as the new chair of the SkillsUSA Championships Executive Committee. Joe will be representing education on the committee and stepping in for the always wonderful Francie Russell. Joe will serve for one year on the YDF committee.
- On September 13, I took Mega Prize winner Mike Benton and his wife on a tour of the Capitol before we went to a Washington Nationals baseball game. The day began with a reception with all of the national staff and a tour of the national headquarters. I can say confidently that Mike and his wife had a wonderful time, thanks in part to our mega prize sponsor, N.E.W.
SkillsUSA is pleased to announce a partnership with K2Share as our new platform provider for the Work Force Ready System Skill Connect Assessments. K2Share is the same company that administers the CareerSafe program and the assessment for the 10-hour OSHA safety credential. We are excited about our new platform and the new features that will be offered to our customers as a result of this change.
Pricing remains the same at $20 per assessment or $10 per assessment for the number of SkillsUSA members in the previous school year. For details visit our website at this link.
We have a new phone number, email address and extended hours of operation for customer support!
Help Desk Support Hours: Mon- Fri 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Eastern
For additional information, please visit our website at: www.workforcereadysystem.org.
Lowe’s continues a fifth year of generosity with another round of SkillsUSA grants in 2014. Two grant opportunities are available.
The Schools In Need Grant program is to identify schools, classrooms or instructors who have a very basic need to improve the quality of students’ educational experience. Grants will be awarded ranging from $2,500 to $25,000. The deadline for applications is November 1, 2013.
Grant applications should detail the need for classroom improvements, upgrading or providing tangible tools for learning technical skills, leadership development opportunities, or providing competition clothing that will enable students to compete at SkillsUSA events. In addition, those applicants who can outline their plan to “pay it forward” by planning and implementing a project or event that will allow them to use the tools or skills obtained due to receiving the grant dollars will stand a greater chance of receiving funding. The best projects will detail how the outcome will provide a life-changing experience for the beneficiaries of the grant dollars. Grant recipients will be announced and funds awarded in January 2014.
CareerSafe Grants will be awarded to schools in the form of vouchers that allow students to take an online assessment and earn their OSHA 10-hour Construction or General Industry safety credential. Vouchers will be awarded based on SkillsUSA membership and use of vouchers in previous years. New applications will receive priority over schools applying for consecutive years; however, all are encouraged to apply. The deadline for applications is December 1, 2013. Vouchers will be awarded in January 2014.
Grant information and applications are available here. For questions, call Carol Lowery, Lowe’s Grant Manager at 641-456-4515 or 641-512-0504.
SkillsUSA is offering e-learning opportunities to all advisors. These 45-minute webinars will help prepare advisors for a great year. They will get practical answers and useful solutions to empower students to lead their chapter to success. Each e-learning session will be presented at 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. (EDT) on the scheduled day.
Advisors can register for the time they find most convenient by using the link: www.skillsusa.org/join/elearning.shtml. After registering, they will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. In addition, they will receive a free resource item just for attending e-learning. The session dates follow:
- Integrating SkillsUSA into the classroom environment – Thursday, October 3
- SkillsUSA programs – Tuesday, October 8
- Student leadership development – Thursday, October 10
- Preparing for the SkillsUSA Championships – Tuesday, October 15
Materials, speakers and panelists are ready to go for the largest WLTI ever at 373 students, advisors and state directors from 30 states compared to 314 last year. Johan Uvin, the deputy assistant secretary at the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) at the U.S. Department of Education will be our featured luncheon speaker and Robin Utz, chief of the College and Career Transitions Branch and Sharon Miller, director of Academic and Technical Education from OVAE will be our featured morning speakers. We also have some great panels coming together for the advisors and the students thanks to our friends at the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), the National Association State Directors of Career and Technical Education consortium (NASDCTEc), the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), the College Board, and Jobs for the Future. There are four new states attending and 14 of 15 national officers will be with us.
- Marsha Daves had 26 Washington state teachers and administrators attend her Professional Development Program training session at Puget Sound Skills Center near Seattle on Saturday, August 24. The session was funded by State Farm and state director Bruce McBurney and Denny Wallace also attended.
- A SkillsUSA student and teacher have been selected for interviews during the nationwide PBS broadcast entitled “American Graduate Day” on Saturday, September 28. Also scheduled for the broadcast are short videos about CTE and SkillsUSA featuring John McGlade, Air Products, Glenda Bonds, an instructor at Cross Key High School in Atlanta, and Mike Rowe. For more information, go to http://americangraduate.org/grad-day.
- We have the early results from his survey of 668 SkillsUSA Championships technical committees. He’s heard back from 157 individuals (23.5 percent) and hopes to hear back from as many as a third. Among the interesting responses he’s received (and bearing in mind they’re all preliminary): 80 percent of the respondents say they plan to transition to Louisville; when asked how well students were prepared for the contests, 48 percent said better than last year and 45 percent said the same; and, when asked if contests reflect industry expectations for contests, 45 percent strongly agree and 43 percent somewhat agree.
- We’re starting to gear up for a new year in advocacy in Washington. Following the lead of ACTE and NASDCTEc, SkillsUSA has posted an alert and a sample letter on the SkillsUSA Advocacy Site so teachers and others can weigh in on the importance of restoring federal funding for CTE. Just visit http://www.capwiz.com/skillsusa/home/.
Since 2010, Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act funding has been cut by more than $140 million and because of sequestration, Perkins will lose an additional $58 million for the 2013-14 school year. The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved a funding bill that restores recent cuts made to Perkins by sequestration and provides funding at the FY 2012 level. As of late August, the House had not released its appropriations bill for education and workforce development programs.
SkillsUSA, in cooperation with the Association for Career and Technical Education, asks that our constituents write to their Members of Congress to ask them to increase funding for CTE – back to the FY2010 level.
An alert and message has been posted on the SkillsUSA CapWiz site. To send a letter to your Senators and to your Representative, go to: http://capwiz.com/skillsusa/home/. Enter your zip code and the rest is self-explanatory. Please spread the word and take a few minutes to write to your Members of Congress and help CTE regain the Perkins funding it needs.
When advisors register at least 15 student members plus one or more professionals by November 15, 2013, they will receive a free copy of Leveraging Your Leadership with Effective Chapter Meetings, The Teacher’s Guide, SkillsUSA’s brand-new guide for enhancing classroom instruction.
Also, instructors who submit a roster with 100-percent membership plus one or more professionals also will receive a SkillsUSA Program of Work calendar (value: $5.95).
Remember, the membership roster must be submitted online by November 15th to receive these free items.
And, sponsored by the Lowe’s Charitable and Education Foundation, advisors will be eligible to win a $50 Lowe’s gift card when they submit SkillsUSA membership as a professional member of SkillsUSA and have a minimum of 15 members in their training program. Here is how it works – advisors register their members online at the SkillsUSA website and then each day the national headquarters will draw the name of one lucky advisor and will notify winning advisors on Friday of each week. Advisor names stay in the drawing until they either win or until the program ends. The program will run from September 16-November 15, 2013.
State Association Director Chair Mike Cowles, his officer team and the national staff facilitated an outstanding Professional Development and Training Conference in Portland, Maine. A total of 47 states participated and – including state assistants, special guests and support staff – a total of 100 people participated.
The conference kicked off on Tuesday evening with association management training for 12 new state directors. On Wednesday, experienced directors arrived and the opening dinner officially started the main event. Two SkillsUSA state officers from Maine, the high school president and the college vice president, delivered a passionate welcome and told moving stories about how involvement in SkillsUSA had an impact on their lives. Their stories included the positive impact of their state directors. It’s always great to start a national training event by featuring the true product of our organization: bright and motivated students for whom SkillsUSA made a true difference.
Day three started with my overview of recent accomplishments and a look at the 2014-15 strategic plan. Our focus on “core,” state association support and student engagement as the centerpiece of the plan was extremely well received by the directors. And, because the conference program and training sessions were primarily built around these three areas, they became our focus for the week. Directors received training from our staff and other experts on our membership and conference registration technology, member recruitment and engagement, SkillsUSA Championships and new contest updates, NLSC updates (including the latest Louisville transition information) and Activate, Leverage, Engage and TAG Tuesday reports. Each day included best practice sharing sessions among the states. We also had outstanding industry sponsors who underwrote and spoke during meal functions and there were great industry updates as well as proposals for some exciting new competitions. Our SkillsUSA Store representatives from E Group presented some great new products and introduced an exciting new website for our students. And, they engaged student leaders in website naming, design and product ideas. This will be a brand new initiative that connects directly with students and allows student purchases. State directors were also allowed to pre-order their state medallions and awards banners and E Group sponsored a hospitality suite containing a display of the latest products and promotional items offered to SkillsUSA state associations and local chapters.
And, in perfect alignment with our strategic focus on our core, student engagement and state association support, our staff rolled out a full portfolio of materials and resources for our state directors. These included a new state officer personal guidebook, a series of lesson plans for conducting state workshops, a state officer training facilitator guide and a state director marketing kit containing a full arsenal of resources from PowerPoint presentations for all stakeholder audiences and custom logos, posters and art for conferences, new Web tools and advocacy tools to help directors promote and inform educators, parents and industry about SkillsUSA and the good work of the state associations. Needless to say, the state directors were extremely excited and appreciated receiving these great new resources!
Other training included the introduction of a proposed new framework for chapters that rises to the SkillsUSA Program of Work, financial management, alumni, future middle school involvement and best use of the SkillsUSA brand. Another big hit was the rollout of a new chapter quality standards and recognition/rewards program. And, of course, state directors participated in committee meetings centered on operations and strategy, and we closed the conference on Saturday with the annual business meeting.
Finally, the directors participated in social activities that included a dinner cruise and lobster boil, a night on the waterfront in Portland and a tour of the coastline including the Portland Light, and shopping at L.L. Bean. All in all, this was a very positive meeting with great feedback for the national staff as we move forward.
- I’ve met twice with a local management consultant – and another meeting is scheduled for early in September – to discuss creation of a human resources plan. We’ll begin by conducting an analysis of SkillsUSA’s structure and processes, including staffing and staff succession, so we know we are appropriately aligned to meet the goals in Vision 2020.
- We held a staff meeting on August 6 and the chief topic was the 2013 National Leadership and Skills Conference. Small cross-departmental teams reviewed the national conference and offered up their five best superlatives and five major challenges. Among the superlatives: excellent general sessions, particularly the quality of the speakers; good news media coverage; the registration process went well with improvements implemented during the past two years; addition of TAG Tuesday for delegates; and YDF Breakfast and Challenge Fund. We also did some brainstorming for the 50th anniversary celebration.
- The Challenge Fund held during conference raised $140,000 from corporate and individual contributions. All monies were dedicated to the Skills Build America Campaign.
- We’re finding SkillsUSA appearing more frequently in papers and books focusing on skill gaps and worker shortages. One of the most recent is in the book The U.S. Technology Skills Gap: What Every Technology Executive Must Know to Save America’s Future. The central thesis by author Gary Beach is that the widening “skills gap” in math and science is a threat to America’s future, and business should get involved. The very first example of a public-private partnership — in the chapter entitled “Let’s Build Some Arks” — is SkillsUSA, 1965. He wrote in the chapter: “Do your homework and learn more about CTE.” Beach called our offices last week to say “SkillsUSA was way ahead of the game.”
- SkillsUSA will be featured in a nationwide PBS broadcast entitled “American Graduate Day” on Saturday September 28. The program is about community organizations that are successful in preventing dropouts. SkillsUSA will be both an example of a community organization and of CTE. We have been compiling stories of students who stayed in school and have gone on to greater things thanks to SkillsUSA, their instructors and others. There will be much more to tell in the coming weeks.
- Bob Baird of the Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC), chair of our Industrial Motor Control contest and long-time friend of SkillsUSA, came to visit on August 7 to discuss ways IEC and SkillsUSA can support each other at local, state and national levels. Support from IEC would include work by its chapters in training, contests, and advocacy. We also spoke of possible support from some of IEC’s corporate members. Bob expressed interest in the Professional Development Program as a curriculum for apprentices.
- I attended a meeting between youth organizations and the Army at Ft. Myer to discuss the Army’s SAY Program (Strengthening America’s Youth) The Army involved us in a discussion of STEM education and recruiting the best youth with technical skills into the military. I suggested, and it was well received, that the Army give preference through rank and pay to students who come to them with technical and leadership credentials such as being a SkillsUSA officer or a leader in another student organization. The dialogue continued the following day when the representatives of the Army visited our office to discuss our 2014 partnership.
- Jacob Wozniak of Springville, New York won the qualifying trial in Cabinetmaking for a spot on the 2015 SkillsUSA WorldTeam. Jacob will compete in Sao Paulo, Brazil in August 2015. He is a graduate of the Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES program and he won the 2012 high school Gold medal in Cabinetmaking. Jacob competed against Caleb Floyd, the 2012 high school Silver medalist from Kathleen, Ga. and Warner-Robins High School, and Brett Sidesinger of Topeka, Kan. and Washburn Tech, who was the highest scoring age-eligible contestant from the 2013 Cabinetmaking contest. The Cabinetmaking Qualifying Trial was conducted at the biennial AWFS Fair in late July at the Las Vegas Convention Center, thanks to the generous in-kind sponsorship of the Association of Woodworking and Furnishings Suppliers (AWFS). WorldTeam Cabinetmaking technical expert Rob Tobias of Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster, PA, served as the chief judge.
- I recently received a note from Daniel Berrios, our 2013 WorldSkills Cabinetmaking competitor about his experience in Germany. “The WorldSkills competition was one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences I have ever had. It felt like the Olympics. The mixture of cultures, languages, and people really brought about a sense of unity and equality among all competitors. The confusion and excitement are hard to put into words, but in the end it was all about a good friendly competition; no politics nor boarders, just people doing what they love to do with a focus on winning a medal. The competition itself was intense, and the cabinet was one of the most difficult projects I had ever done, with lots of complex angles, cuts, and joints all while thousands of people watched my every move. Every cut had to be perfect and nothing less would suffice, although, I do admit I did make a few mistakes on my cabinet. But, I have no regrets on how I built my project, and if I had the opportunity again, I would do it in a heartbeat.”
- Speaking of quotes, here’s an excerpt from an email by Judy Rambert of Pivot Point, a long-time supporter of SkillsUSA and the WorldTeam. She wrote after listening to my remarks during the recent Congressional Roundtable: “I sat listening to your speech on Capitol Hill tonight, and it reminded me why Pivot Point cherishes our involvement with SkillsUSA. Your message captured our commitment to the youth of our profession. Students involved in SkillsUSA chapters have superb statistics of completing their education. You all must be so proud!”
- And, the Best of Brand Awards were presented during the state directors’ conference in South Portland, Maine. Congratulations go to Best of Innovation: Advocacy – Tennessee college/postsecondary; Best of Innovation: Membership Growth and Engagement – Michigan; Best of Brand: Print – Wisconsin; Best of Brand: Multi-media – Arizona; and, Best of Brand: Website – Oregon.