- On October 21, I met in St. Louis with executives in the Global Opportunities Product Lifecycle Management division of Siemens. The meeting was arranged by board member Cameron Ferguson, Caterpillar, and student national officers Jason Brigner (Region III) and Brandon Mullings (college/postsecondary vice president) made the SkillsUSA presentations to Siemens. We talked about support for the SkillsUSA WorldTeam and getting their support on the Youth Development Foundation, on Championships technical committees and providing subject matter experts for engineering assessments in the Work Force Ready System. They’re very interested in giving software grants to schools.
- We signed an agreement with GAERF (Graphic Arts Education and Research Foundation) to offer five co-branded PrintED/SkillsUSA Skill Connect assessments. The five are graphic communications, advertising design, screen printing, digital file preparation/digital file output and offset press operations/binding and finishing. News releases and official announcements are still being prepared. We’re very enthusiastic about this partnership because we are partnering with THE organization that certifies instructional programs and is recognized by the graphics/printing industry.
- My trip to California on October 16 and 17 went well. I worked with the California board on board training, state association policy and worked with them on strategic planning.
- Development of the instructional program for the Engineering Alliance is going well according to staff. Staff developed the EA logo, and we’re in the process of getting it trademarked.
- According to our marketing director, “Monster Garage” on the Discovery Channel is now talking about having eight SkillsUSA students participate in the programs to be taped at the end of November and possibly airing this coming spring. Thanks go to Lowe’s and Kobalt Tools for making the connections.
- On October 26, staff attended a manufacturing summit in Washington, D.C. hosted by NIMS (National Institute for Metalworking Skills) and the Swiss Embassy. Approximately 80 people attended. A common theme throughout was the frustration of domestic employers – and the disbelief of foreign manufacturers – with the U.S. public education system. “Over and over again we heard: “We want better CTE and we want more CTE.”” Assistant Secretary of Labor Jane Oates spoke during the summit.
- We had a good training seminar on diversity for department directors on October 20 with Ellen Hyslope from Human Resources at Middleburg Bank. Her key message to managers: Make sure you’re focused on creating equal opportunities for all employees.
- The Youth Development Foundation Committee’s spring meeting is scheduled for March 17-18. It will be held here at the national center and there will be a joint session with the board of directors at that same time.
- On the last day of the WLTI, we met with representatives from the U.S. Army’s agency. They told us that because the economy has been bad Army recruitment has been good. As a consequence, they’ve met their recruiting goal, and their budget has been cut 42 percent. We were waiting for the other shoe to drop. Instead, they told us there are only three approved sponsorships this year and SkillsUSA is one of them. Their funding for SkillsUSA will remain level. They said the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference is one of their best events all year, and they’re looking into scholarships for students to attend WLTI.
- The final transactions between Midwest Trophy and our new SkillsUSA Store were completed. The folks at E Group reported they have received the last of the inventory and everything looks good.
- In the “out and about section:” Staff and I had a great visit with board member Jim McKenney to discuss areas of greater cooperation between the American Association of Community Colleges and SkillsUSA, particularly on the legislative front; Staff recently returned from Alaska where they worked with chapters under the W.K. Kellogg Foundation grant; Staff and a representative from TSA (Technology Student Association) traveled to Baltimore on September 29 to present on the Engineering Alliance to supervisors of technology education in Maryland; I recently traveled to New Hampshire for a meeting with intelitek, and I spoke at a STEM conference there; and, (drum roll, please) last weekend I took my young grandson, Will, to Disney World. We had an awesome time!
After months of planning and discussion – SkillsUSA and TSA (Technology Student Association) will be jointly establishing a program called the Engineering Alliance to Serve Project Lead The Way (PLTW) beginning this coming school year. We spoke of our decision while we were visiting with other members of the NCC-CTSO (National Coordinating Council of the Career and Technical Student Organizations) including representatives from the U.S. Department of Education. We had a very enthusiastic reaction from everyone attending the meeting and SkillsUSA and TSA look forward to serving teachers and students in pre-engineering programs in the 3,000 (and expanding number of) high schools and middle schools with PLTW. The program will provide leadership activity for local level PLTW integration and will encourage membership in SkillsUSA and TSA.
In other news from the NCC-CTSO, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Vocational and Adult Education, Greg Cummings told us that President Obama is committed to pathways that lead students to prosperity and, in turn, will lead the nation to prosperity. He believes SkillsUSA and the other CTSOs do just that. He also said the areas the student organizations represent are areas of in-demand jobs, and he’s impressed by what the CTSOs do to give students a voice and power as well as the ability to lead. To top off the great comments in support of what we do, Deputy Assistant Secretary Cummings planned to come to Kansas City, but after looking at his schedule, he declined. He is making sure someone from the U.S. Department of Education Under Secretary’s Office will be with us, however. That’s exciting!
The CTSOs also compared notes on what’s happening with funding and support in the states. As many as six states report they’re having issues on funding for travel or continuing state-level activities. The CTSOs will be working together to overcome these issues. The up side is that nearly all of the CTSOs had increases in both membership and state conference attendance.
Check out the press release: www.skillsusa.org/about/engineeringalliance.shtml
Here is a Q&A about the Alliance: www.skillsusa.org/about/allianceqa.shtml