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Highlights

September 13th, 2013
  • 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/.

 

Highlights

August 29th, 2013
  • 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.

Highlights

August 14th, 2013
  • Jonathan Irizarry , past national secretary and I met with other career and technical student organizations (CTSOs) on July 25 during the National FFA Washington Leadership Institute (WLI). FFA pulls together all of its state presidents for training and Hill visits during its WLI. SkillsUSA was invited to participate in student and educator panels with other organizations to discuss opportunities and concerns of CTSOs. In all, four student organizations participated and representatives from the Association for Career and Technical Education. Among the top concerns of the adults were engaging students, alumni, membership growth and finding ways to honor instructors. I talked about engagement in our strategic plan and Vision 2020. Jonathan did very well talking about leadership training at WLTI, state certified trainers, and training at national conference. He also talked about a day-long symposium he’d put together in Puerto Rico where he used the WLTI experience as a model and brought in local businesses to do the training. Students were engaged and networking too.
  • The National Coordinating Council of the CTSOs (NCC-CTSO) met on July 30. Among the topics of conversation were high school redesign and higher education initiatives at the Office of Vocational and Adult Education; prospects for education legislation in Washington (parties are very far apart and likely there will have to be a continuing resolution to keep funding at current levels); and, creation of a NCC-CTSO website. The website project is being led by a SkillsUSA staffer. Also of interest, the CTSOs have compiled their membership numbers by state and by congressional district and produced state profile fliers to be used with their elected representatives. When we add up the members of all the organizations, it’s more than two million people. The fliers will be released later in the year.
  • Videos of the speeches and presentations made during the Creating Pathways to Prosperity Conference at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in March 2013 are now available online at: http://tinyurl.com/l9oqaex. The video of remarks by Nick Pinchuk, chairman and CEO of Snap-on can be seen at: http://tinyurl.com/mwjxy9l. Remarks by a former Massachusetts student state officer from Blackstone Valley Vocational Regional High School speaking as part of a student panel appear at the 44:29 mark at: http://tinyurl.com/mwjxy9l.
  • Former Collision Repair Technology contest technical committee member, Bob Medved, interviewed Mike Rowe about the skills gap on Collision Hub during the national conference. A copy of the video appears on the mikeroweWORKS website at: www.mikeroweworks.com/2013/07/mike-rowe-explains-the-skills-gap-at-skillsusa-2013/.

Highlights

August 1st, 2013
  • Welcome to our new members of the board of directors: Dale Derrickson, Region 1; Jennifer Polz, state directors’ association chair; Laurie Hackett, Youth Development Foundation Committee chair; and, Mike deCastro of Air Products (fulfilling Joe Pientrantonio’s term). Congratulations to the officers: James King, president; Brent Kindred, vice president; and, Chris Arvin, secretary. And, thank you for your service and leadership to: Mike Cowles, state directors’ association chair; Gerry Tylka, Region 1; and, Dave Camden, Youth Development Foundation chair.
  • While it’s not news about the national organization, I believe it’s good to share examples of what excellent and far-reaching work our state associations do. Here’s a story about the recent “Paint the Town” community service activity involving 250 students and teachers from 40 schools in Ohio. The intern reporter might need an editor but, I believe, he captured the spirit of the event here.
  • On July 23rd, I spoke on Capitol Hill to a round table of representatives from nearly 30 congressional offices — members of the CTE Congressional Caucus — about SkillsUSA as a CTSO and ways we help students transition from high school to college and work. The student national officers have just been here for nine days of training. And, we’ve established dates for the board meetings. The fall meetings will be Web conferences on November 19 for standing committees and November 20 for the full board. The spring meeting will be March 12-13 at Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology, Nashville. The summer board meeting during conference will move back to Tuesday, June 24 and the Corporation meeting will be on Wednesday, June 25.

Highlights

July 15th, 2013
  • Michael de Castro, director, GO Strategic Development with Air Products is joining the board of directors. Michael steps into the position held by Joe Pietrantonio. I know all of us appreciate Joe’s service, his business acumen, wisdom and spirit. He’s been a tremendous asset to all of us. Thanks Joe and welcome Michael.
  • We are also very pleased to welcome a new Region I representative to the Board – Dr. Dale Derrickson, state association for Delaware was elected to replace a great board member from Pennsylvania – Jerry Tylka.

Highlights

June 15th, 2013
  • I went to Rhode Island June 7-8 and visited with a great local chapter (Chariho CTE Center), met with state contestants and conducted board training and strategic planning with the SkillsUSA Rhode Island Board of Directors. Thanks to Josh Klemp and his board for a productive and successful meeting.
  • Staff attended a Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) conference in Baltimore on June 3. SME has a new tag line, “Making the future. Together,” and Our representative said many conferees stopped him to talk about SkillsUSA.
  • On May 14, staff members and I drove up to Bethlehem, Pa where we were joined by Board President James King and YDF Chair-Elect Laurie Gostley-Hackett and representatives from Northampton Community College, to prepare for our meeting the following day with the president and senior staff at the college. John McGlade of Air Products has encouraged the college to start a SkillsUSA chapter that could be a model for colleges elsewhere, and he’s willing to invest time and money to do it. James spoke of the success the technical colleges are having in Tennessee with chapters and the benefits derived by the colleges and the students. We have a tentative agreement from the president to attend the national conference with senior staff.
  • And, finally, I had an interesting meeting here in the office on May 13 with the vice president of the International Sign Association (ISA). The association wants to develop a certification for the workers who design, fabricate and install highway and digital signs. ISA is very interested in our employability curriculum and assessments as a possible component in their certification system. He said he’d met with many workforce development organizations, but this had been the most productive meeting yet.

 

Highlights

June 1st, 2013
  • On May 2, I attended the Research Partner Executive Dinner and Reception hosted by the National Research Center for College and University Admissions. The NRCCUA — which is a college and career planning program and runs “myCollegeOptions” — billed it as a networking event and it certainly was. There were 30 top executives from several different organizations. As a result of our visits, I’ve invited executives from Junior ROTC and STEM Connector to attend the national conference.
  • In another outreach from the college community, Wanda Monthey, Governor Roy Romer, Karen Lanning, director of Federal Relations and two other members of the College Board Career Readiness staff came to visit SkillsUSA headquarters to learn more about our organization. The College Board (known for the SAT exam) has put together a team to see what the role of the College Board can be in working with CTE. The team will be working on policy, partnerships, guidance, assessments and curriculum. They said the CB will be “putting the student in the center of what we do and finding pathways for all students to their careers.” They showed a great deal of interest in SkillsUSA. In a follow-up email, Jean-Claude Brizard wrote: “My biggest takeaway from yesterday is your success in getting the grassroots mobilized (teachers and students). Your national convention is fantastic. We have to find a way to engage you in our work.” More to come, I’m sure.
  • Thanks to an introduction from Board Member Russ Hoffbauer, on May 2 I met in Washington with Clark Plucinski, executive director of the Collision Repair Education Foundation. In the interest of gaining “higher quality trainees and employees” in the collision repair industry, the Foundation grants as many as 200 scholarships averaging $1,000 – $2,500 annually for students’ continuing education. The foundation also awards mini-grants and many other things to support collision repair instruction. Clark said he’s open to the option of adding travel scholarships for SkillsUSA students and perhaps adding SkillsUSA membership as a criterion for receiving a scholarship.
  • Worldwide, SkillsUSA is featured as one of 14 model public-private partnerships “that have enabled innovation and technology advancement and promoted talent development” in a recently released global report from the World Economic Forum prepared by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited entitled “Manufacturing for Growth.” Deloitte has been acquainted with SkillsUSA for quite some time — due in part to our partnership with the Manufacturing Institute — but it was still quite an honor to be selected and highlighted on an international scale. Here is a link to the news release about the report (and citing SkillsUSA). To view or download the three-volume report, go to this link. SkillsUSA is featured on page 25 of the second volume.
  • And, more coverage. SkillsUSA was included in an independent supplement from Media Planet to USA Today entitled “Employing America” and featuring Mike Rowe. An article entitled “Who will take over for the retiring baby boomers?” is about SkillsUSA in part and includes quotes from Joe Pietrantonio of Air Products, Nick Pinchuk of Snap-on and Don Whyte of the National Center for Construction Education and Research. The insert was in Midwest editions of USA Today. Here’s a link to the story (and no, we didn’t supply the photo). Another story being picked up by many places is on students who built a robotic locker for a classmate with Muscular Dystrophy. Here it is on the Huffington Post.
  • In other news, staff travelled to California for a meeting with ALCOA to create a program for ALCOA employees to promote manufacturing careers to students. Dave Worden spoke to a committee of the IEC (Independent Electrical Contractors) about the WorldSkills Competition and the WorldTeam. Staff also conducted an “Enhance Your Chapter” training session here on May 9 for four teachers from Virginia and other staff members met with intelitek to discuss online programs including the Skill Connect Assessments.
  • And, finally, three-person SkillsUSA 2012 Engineering Technology/Design competition team national gold medalists were chosen to visit the White House for President Obama’s Science Fair in April. The students, Grant Feldhege, Neil Molitor and Tyler Tran, from Tech High School in St. Cloud Area School District, Minn. designed, created, and manufactured a new product called Dolly-to-Trolley. It is a device that clamps onto a two wheel dolly and allows a person to move and maneuver trailers easily. The students are working on having their product patented. President Obama celebrated the remarkable achievements of student science fair winners and extraordinary kid innovators from across the nation in the third White House Science Fair.

Highlights

May 15th, 2013
  • The final membership report for the 2012-13 school year is complete and is located at: www.skillsusa.org/downloads/PDF/membershipreport13.pdf
  • Staff attended the Texas high school SLSC, held in Corpus Christi April 4-6, and helped to interview state and national officer candidates and run the alumni booth.
  • Staff traveled to Louisville, April 10-12, for 2015 NLSC planning and met with service providers interested in bidding on transportation and security services; met with management at the Kentucky Exposition Center to identify additional meeting space and determine a location for awards photos; and, they met with the exclusive caterer and electrical service provider. They wrapped up the visit by visiting a potential entertainment venue and some hotels interested in providing room blocks.

Highlights

May 1st, 2013
  • The final membership report for the 2012-13 school year is now complete (335,975 total) and is located at http://www.skillsusa.org/downloads/PDF/membershipreport13.pdf.
  • On April 16-17, the SkillsUSA Youth Development Foundation (YDF) met at the National Leadership Center. The meeting was very well attended and was one of the most interactive on record. The meeting started with a review of the FY14 Strategic Plan. Chairman Dave Camden and our Business Partnerships and Development staff then led the Foundation through a series of exercises to help SkillsUSA with strategy to move our partnerships efforts forward. Dave Camden has now retired from Toyota, and this was his final YDF meeting. We are very pleased and excited that Laurie Hackett of Air Products will be assuming the position of YDF chair.
  • Staff recently attended a meeting in New Orleans of the Workforce Development Committee of the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER). The NCCER desires to work with SkillsUSA on a “Skills to Industry Recruitment Alliance” that will engage NCCER commercial and industrial construction contractors and NCCER’s Build Your Future (BYF) program in a database development and mentoring tactic to supply more construction tradecraft workers. The industrial and commercial construction industry has major concerns with the tradecraft worker supply, especially now that the energy sector is growing quickly. NCCER is a major supporter of the national Carpentry contest. Staff also stopped by the SkillsUSA Louisiana Awards Ceremony and briefly addressed the audience.
  • Staff members recently participated in a conference call with the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) about becoming involved in the Mechatronics contest and a possible demonstration contest in 2014 in Additive Manufacturing. SME has recently projected that for every baccalaureate engineer, our economy needs seven engineering technicians.
  • On April 10, staff attended a meeting of the National Council of Career and Technology Student Organizations (NCC-CTSO). SkillsUSA will be helping NCC-CTSO create a common website that promotes CTSO missions and membership and provides shared elements of all nine CTSOs.
  • Staff members attended the Missouri state conference, the Kentucky state conference,  the Texas high school state conference, the South Carolina state conference and  the New York state conference.
  • Staff members also traveled to Louisville for NLSC 2015 planning and attended the Equipment and Engine Training Council (EETC) annual conference in Bloomington, Minn.

Highlights

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: www.prweb.com/releases/2013/4/prweb10588382.htm.
  • 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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