I was invited to attend a Council on Competitiveness Symposium on October 4-5 at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. The invitation was extended by Council member John McGlade, chairman and CEO of Air Products. Board member Joe Pientrantonio and YDF member Laurie Gostley were heavily involved in organizing the event. The theme was “Leveraging the Talent Development Process to Drive Innovation.” Hosts for the symposium were Alice Gast, Lehigh University president; Deborah Wince-Smith, president and CEO of the Council and John McGlade. Special guests and speakers included executives from Lockheed Martin, Deloitte, NanoMech; workforce development leaders from regional economic development and workforce investment boards; and, education leaders from leading universities and education agencies. Brenda Dann-Messier, assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, was the closing speaker and she commended SkillsUSA and Air Products for our model partnership.
On both days of the meeting, I was able to spend some quality time with our great friend, John McGlade. John was a “live commercial” for SkillsUSA during the entire event and spoke passionately about our program at the dinner of the Council on Thursday evening. He also had SkillsUSA members from Lehigh Valley Schools in red blazers at every table. He recognized each one of them by name and their training program (most were in manufacturing pathways of study). and he also recognized our WorldSkills cabinetmaking competitor from Pennsylvania, Daniel Berrios, from Northampton Community College in Tannersville, Pa.
John would like for us to be at the next Council meeting in Washington, D.C. on November 16, and he is trying to get us a seat at the table. The Council is proposing a national “Skills Agenda,” and John is one of the primary drivers of this concept that will focus the federal government and business executives on the skilled worker issue. Big thanks to John and Air Products for making SkillsUSA a significant component in the Council’s discussion about our future skilled workforce.