On April 23-24, I attended the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) Board of Trustees meeting in Indianapolis. SkillsUSA continues to become more involved with NCCER and their globally-recognized contractor members. NCCER CEO Don Whyte provided an update on the state of the association and announced a pre-pilot of a Skills-to-Industry Recruitment Alliance that will involve potential hiring of SkillsUSA students by these contractors. He also announced a $40,000 fundraising goal for support of our national Carpentry contest and new sponsorship of our national Masonry contest. NCCER Vice President Steve Greene announced new scholarships for SkillsUSA members and more connection to the NCCER Build Your Future initiative. Don Whyte and board member Boyd Worsham (also our national carpentry tech committee chair) will be traveling with us to Germany in July in support of our WorldTeam. In another piece of positive news, our BPD staff has been working with NCCER member Fluor Construction to gain support from the corporation. It’s always good to be a part of the governance of trade associations, but also a great opportunity to network with top executives from the industries represented.
- 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.
- The NCC-CTSO (National Coordinating Council of the Career and Technical Student Organizations) met here at the National Leadership Center on November 14. All ten federally-recognized organizations were represented in person or on Skype. It was a good meeting. We worked on developing a paper to lay out our mutually-shared values and discussed CTSO membership concentrations in congressional districts.
- I attended the NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research) board meeting in Alachua, Fla. on November 15-16. While there, CEO Don Whyte and I announced a new joint initiative called “Skills to Industry.” It will begin with a pilot program to connect some of NCCER’s commercial contractor members with our chapters to line up internships and employment for our student members. We will be providing more information to state directors where pilots will be implemented as soon as plans are solidified.
- On the conference front, staff reports that state conferences are showing higher attendance.
- We have posted a highlight video from the 2012 Washington Leadership Training Institute, below:
In his recent essay in the National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) Friends of CTE Blog Series, SkillsUSA Champion of the Year, Nick Pinchuk of Snap-on says “When some say the American worker is the problem, I say no . . . the American worker is the answer. We need to enable workers with both training and respect. Because of that, CTE and SkillsUSA have never been more important to assure a prosperous American future. ” To read the complete essay on the importance of CTE and America’s workforce and based on his remarks during the Champion of the Year events, please visit: http://blog.careertech.org/?p=7329.
Jennifer McNelly, president of the Manufacturing Institute and new member of the Youth Development Foundation, was honored recently in the inaugural 100 Women Leaders in STEM, a showcase for the careers and initiatives of women leaders who are active role models for STEM professionals. Congratulations go to Jennifer.
On October 25, staff and I conducted a webinar on the Skill Connect Assessments for the Arizona Department of Education. Joining the one-hour presentation were the state superintendent of education, the assistant superintendent and others in Arizona working on career planning and assessments. The presentation went well, and they certainly appeared to be interested. In a related development, Daniele Stacey of National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) came by the national office on October 18 to meet with me to discuss how our Skill Connect Assessments could cooperate with the NCCER assessments. Daniele said NCCER also wants to increase visibility of SkillsUSA in its own curriculum materials.
In our continuing effort to get information from all of our stakeholders, we invited SkillsUSA Alumni and Friends Association Coordinating Council members Bryan Doxford of New York and Peyton Holland of North Carolina to meet with select staff on October 11. We discussed their vision for the organization and their ideas for areas of emphasis in SkillsUSA including social media networking, videos, a strong alumni association, digital marketing tools and training for all. The full Council just met at the national center, November 9-11.
And, on October 19, we held our annual staff outing with a lovely autumn lunch and wine tasting at a local winery. We honored years of service at the luncheon for five of our staff members: Ashley Ridgeway, five years; Sandy Moore and Roxanne Hodge with 10 years; Tom Kercheval for 15 years; and, Karen Beatty for 45 years of service. While I’m on the topic, I’ll also mention anniversaries of staff from September, October and November: Niki Clausen, 3 years; Byekwaso Gilbert, 12 years; Jane Short, 19 years; Kim Graham, 24 years; Tom Hall, 27 years; Shelly Coates, 32 years; and, Judy Garrison, 34 years. Each and everyone is an amazing resource for SkillsUSA. We have a great staff.
- On September 11, Don Hermanek and Rita Figi of IAA (Insurance Auto Auctions) came by the national office to discuss the launch of a partnership to reach out to support SkillsUSA state associations and chapters and to offer training and employment opportunities to SkillsUSA students from many training program areas. They expressed particular interest in students competing in the leadership contests. They started the meeting with the presentation of a $25,000 check. We are to get back together in early October to further develop our strategy.
- Along similar lines, staff and I met on September 13 with NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research). They’re predicting an uptick in construction hiring and so they’re looking for ways to hire our construction graduates.
- Thanks to Bill Maddox and Wanzel Jessie of YDF member N.E.W., we were able to take the Mega Prize winner John Lee and his wife, Samantha, to the owner’s box at a Washington Nationals baseball game September 7th and then I took them on a Segue tour of the Washington monuments on the 8th. Both John and Samantha are big baseball fans so they were just over the moon about the prize. John teaches diesel equipment technology at Tennessee Technology Center in Elizabethton. He’s also a state certified trainer, he’s had national contestants, has a national officer this year and he was a Virginia state officer many years ago.
- And, finally, the WorldTeam had its first webinar on August 3. Most of the contestants, experts, management team and a few state association directors participated. It was an orientation for the team and to check on how we’re doing on communications and training. We met with state association directors Karen Ward and Mike Cowles on September 10 to discuss several topics including state director certification, new training structures and registration procedures and the hotel lottery at national conference among others. The staff values their input. Past national officer, national staff member and all-around good friend to SkillsUSA, Bill Prince and his wife Patty came by to visit with the national staff on September 12. Bill addressed the staff meeting on the early history of SkillsUSA and exciting moments he recalled such as the appearance of President Reagan at our national conference.
From July 22-25, SkillsUSA had the opportunity to be a major participant in the Construction Industries Institute (CII) in Baltimore, Md. I was joined by Karmen Ayres, immediate past national student vice president, high school division, and an electrical trades student from Aberdeen Washington. Karmen was a featured speaker during one of the CII plenary sessions.
We were pleased to have the support of NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research) at this event. NCCER provided booth space in the CII Expo for SkillsUSA and worked closely with Karmen on her presentation. NCCER CEO, Don Whyte, and Vice President Steve Greene, and his wife, Diane, were instrumental in securing the opportunity for our participation.
More than 650 construction executives attended. The conference was packed with high-level training and information sessions on building efficiency, productivity and profitability in commercial construction. One of the most popular sessions at the Institute was the presentation by Karmen and some more of our students. We received high praise for the students’ presentation skills and educational opportunities and Karmen has already been invited to participate in two additional national conferences, representing SkillsUSA, NCCER and the construction industry.
- Speaking of training, Deb Tripp, our associate director of training, left the national staff on Friday, July 13 to take over the SkillsUSA state association director position in Virginia. We wish her well as the new Virginia state director.
- Prior to Deb’s departure, we posted the associate director of training position and I am pleased to announce that Niki Clausen has interviewed and been promoted to the position. Niki has come full circle through the SkillsUSA program as a former member, national officer, instructor, advisor, state director and as a member of the national staff for the past two and a half years. In her time with us, Niki has taken our alumni to new heights and we are very proud of her accomplishments. And, as one of our current trainers for students and educators, she brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table. I am confident she will excel in her new role.
- We are wrapping up final details and inquiries regarding our largest NLSC in history. Paid registration for conference was at all time high of 10, 037. And, there were a record 5,901 contestants, 11 percent of them over the age of 25.
- We were also thrilled with the large number of business and government VIPs attending this year. Over 300 attended, and we were pleased that one of them, Assistant Secretary of Education Dr. Brenda Dan-Messier, was published in a recent USDOE newsletter: Commenting on the NLSC experience, Dann-Messier said, “I was truly humbled and inspired by the … students who competed in 94 skills competitions …. Equally amazing was the enormous outpouring of support—through voluntarism, cash contributions, state-of-the-art equipment, etc.—from hundreds of teachers, national advisers, and business and industry leaders across this nation. I walked away filled with hope for our nation’s future workforce and prosperity.” Dann-Messier also spoke at the Youth Development Foundation Awards and Recognition Luncheon, before the SkillsUSA corporate meeting, and before the SkillsUSA joint delegate special session.
- I attended the Construction Industries Institute in Baltimore starting last Sunday through Wednesday with Karmen Ayers, past national officer from Washington State. Karmen was our student representative and speaker at the opening plenary of construction executives. Karmen and I operated a SkillsUSA exhibit booth at this event in cooperation with NCCER. There were great connections with several hundred commercial construction executives at this event.
Following three days in the office, I was back on a plane to Jacksonville, Fla. for the NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research) Board of Trustees meeting, May 8-11. On the evening of May 8, NCCER CEO Don Whyte, Board President Bob Parker, the board and over 100 special guests attended the dedication of NCCER’s new national headquarters building outside of Gainesville. It is an impressive facility and it was dedicated “to the men and women who build the world.” The main entrance to the building is accented with brick pavers that honor the companies and individuals who contributed to the building campaign. The SkillsUSA logo appears on two of the bricks. One is for the donation from and me and another staff member. The second is for the donation from Boyd Warsham, chairman of our National Carpentry Contest Technical Committee, former state carpentry competitor and SkillsUSA alumnus. Boyd is also the senior vice president of the Haskell Company, a major industrial construction company and the builder of the NCCER headquarters.
William Symonds from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and project director at the influential Pathways to Prosperity Project was one of the keynote speakers at the dedication. I had a long conversation with Symonds and he knows SkillsUSA very well. He told me his son’s life had been changed when he enrolled in a culinary program in Massachusetts and when he competed in the Massachusetts SkillsUSA Championships. During his speech, he spoke passionately about the need for CTE as a major element of education reform in the USA. He also announced that Harvard will convene a National Pathways to Prosperity Conference following the presidential election. He extended a personal invitation to me to participate. This is a discussion that SkillsUSA needs to be part of and I’m thrilled that we will be there.
I was appointed to another three-year term on the board of trustees during the board meeting the following day. Other board action included discussion of a new international outreach initiative in training, curriculum and assessments and a new marketing campaign, “Build Your Future,” to get youth excited about careers in construction.
- On November 11, I attended the NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research) board of trustees meeting in Phoenix. We have some great partners in the group, and they’re still talking about how much they enjoyed their board meeting during our national conference last June.
- After NCCER, I was off to Chicago for the FABTECH show, November 14 and 15, sponsored by the American Welding Society, Precision Metalforming Association, Society of Manufacturing Engineers and the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association (AWS, PMA, SME and FMA). SkillsUSA WorldTeam medalists from 2009 Calgary and 2011 London, Joe Young and Brad Clink, were formally recognized during the conference with scholarships and awards. And, I was given the Plummer Memorial Education Lecture Award which was quite an honor. The annual award has been presented since 1986 and is in the name of the AWS president from ’52-’54 and later AWS executive director. The title of my presentation was “Welding Education: Changing Lives and Building the 21st Century Workforce.”
- Staff reported during our recent staff meeting that Toyota was pleased with the Champion of the Year dinner. The event raised close to $300,000. Radiator Specialty Company has awarded $25,000 in scholarships to students from five SkillsUSA postsecondary chapters. During the same meeting that donations have come in from 45 companies since September, of which 19 are new or are doing more than in the past as a result of the dinner.
- TECHSPO already has booked 58 indoor booths and 11 outdoor booths for next year’s conference.
In Chicago, July 24 -27, I attended the Construction Industry Institute (CII). It was a tremendous networking opportunity to meet with major contractors and business owners. I understand this was the first time students were involved in the CII conference and the first time there was a concentration on crafts. SkillsUSA was there in partnership with NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research).
Past SkillsUSA national officer Katie Grimnes, who is training to be an electrical line worker, spoke during the opening general session to a tremendous response. CII also showed a video produced in cooperation by NCCER and SkillsUSA. Later during the conference, I moderated a panel entitled “Embracing Youth, Diversity & the Future of Our Craft Professionals.” Katie Grimnes was on the panel along with past SkillsUSA member Holley Thomas, a certified structural welder with Kellogg, Brown and Root in Alabama and Dr. Mittie Cannon, Director of Workforce at the Robbins & Morton Group a supporter of SkillsUSA in Alabama.
Among the individuals I met was a gentleman from the Smithsonian. He said he might be of assistance in archiving SkillsUSA memorabilia. I’m hopeful SkillsUSA will be invited back to CII next year.