On October 8, a staffer and I attended a meeting in Louisville, Ky., to discuss the creation of a greater-Louisville industry council. Chris Powell joined us by conference call. Attending the meeting were Mayor Fischer’s special assistant, two representatives from Greater Louisville Inc. (the combined Economic Development Council and Chamber of Commerce), Joe Morgan and Fran Dundon from the Kentucky Department of Education, a representative from the Kentucky Labor Cabinet, the councilman from the Fourth District and five members of the Louisville Convention and Visitors Board. Following my NLSC overview presentation, all of them expressed keen interest in helping us to recruit Louisville’s key business players to serve on the SkillsUSA industry council. We’ll begin with an industry engagement event in early 2014. There are lots of details to be worked out and more to come from Louisville for our plan; but, we’re glad to have this important initiative underway.
- 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.
Do you know a talented singer in your state who would enjoy a special performance opportunity? SkillsUSA seeks talented singers for the Opening Ceremony or Awards Ceremony during the 2014 SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference. We are looking for a SkillsUSA student or professional member to sing the national anthem or another patriotic song appropriate for opening special sessions. Singers may sing a capella or to a pre-recorded instrumental track. Audition tapes must be the singing of the national anthem.
Send in all audition videotapes of the national anthem only on CD or DVD, postmarked by February 1, 2014 to: Heidi Walsh, SkillsUSA, 14001 SkillsUSA Way, Leesburg, VA 20176. Questions may be directed to Heidi at 703-737-0615 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The national staff will be holding a debriefing meeting on August 6 to make sure we capture all of the positive things we want to continue during next year’s conference and to identify those things we need to correct. There are some of both. Addressing them is how we keep improving
I recently heard from Youth Development Foundation member, Cameron Ferguson of Caterpillar — and the person most responsible for getting Mike Rowe to conference — that he’d been in touch with Mike Rowe. Mike said “It was a privilege to speak to those kids. Very satisfying.” He’s also committed to a campaign to confront negative stereotypes about career and technical education — that’s clear in his “Profoundly Disconnected” campaign — and he sees SkillsUSA and companies supporting us as being part of it.
Cameron said Mike also wrote that he was “amazed how few people outside the industry know about SkillsUSA.” He said that of the thousands of comments he’d received online, the majority were surprised and pleased to learn of SkillsUSA’s existence. They also asked for information on how their children can become involved.
To see a brief interview with Mike Rowe while he was in Kansas City, go to: www.kmbc.com/news/kansas-city/dirty-jobs-host-america-undervalues-vocational-training/-/11664182/20731902/-/hexy22z/-/index.html?absolute=true&utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=kmbc.
There’s another nice clip of Mike Rowe talking about the SkillsUSA slogan “Champions at Work” at the end of Tom Kercheval’s Week in Review video; but, be sure to watch the whole video. As always, Tom’s done a great job of capturing the atmosphere and excitement of the national conference. Go to: www.youtube.com/watch?v=7S8OECvddJ0&feature=youtu.be.
News releases on the medalists and Skill Point Certificate recipients were sent to the newspapers right after conference, before July 4. News releases on medalists and Skill Point recipients were sent to 7,388 daily and non-daily papers. In addition, we sent releases about Skill Point recipients (there are more of them than medalists) to 2,591 more papers. The results are showing up in clippings.
We’re also emailing letters, copies of the news releases and contact information to Members of Congress, governors and state CTE directors so they’ll know about the success of their constituents and can send commendations. This year, we’re sending the information to the main offices back in the state. Those offices are closer to the constituents, and we’re certainly interested in making ties between the offices back home, state associations and chapters. We’ve received word from the office of Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas that he is interested in holding a reception for Kansas SkillsUSA winners . We hope and trust there will be more.
The numbers are in and conference registration was the highest in SkillsUSA history with 10,146 registrants. I’m not going to go through all of the figures here, but I’m interested to see confirmed something I suspected on site: there was a 32 percent increase in the number of female contestants this year and a 34 percent increase in females attending conference overall. Given the traditional demographics of this organization and our instructional program areas, that’s an interesting shift. I also saw a lot of television coverage. It turns out I was right there too. The media report for the greater-Kansas City area this year shows 80 TV, radio, online and print stories about conference and the coverage, isn’t finished yet.
I believe the conference went very well. I’ve received lots of compliments. The state association directors appeared to be happy and so were the partners. That’s the way I like it because if they’re happy, then the students must have been served.
If you want a glimpse of the effect the national conference can have on a newcomer — who’s interested in business and STEM education — take a ride with Julie Kantor at the Huffington Post at: www.huffingtonpost.com/julie-kantor/dirty-job-america-embrace_b_3516922.html. She’s a believer.
Following the recent election, the 2013-14 SkillsUSA Alumni Coordinating Committee has been announced:
Executive Chair: Bryan Doxford, N.Y.
Region 1 Representative: Maria Bender, N.J.
Region 2 Representative: Joey Baker, Fla.
Region 3 Representative: Loree Hayden, Ill.
Region 4 Representative: Cody McPherson, Okla.
Region 5 Representative: Coleen Read, Nev.
Executive Secretary: Anne Dew, Ohio
State Association Director Liaison: Karen Ward, Mass.
Members are looking forward to working with their respective state association directors during the coming year. To contact your regional representative, go to: www.skillsusa.org/supporters/alumnicoord.shtml.
The complete list of SkillsUSA Championships winners is now available at: www.skillsusa.org/compete/results.shtml. For individual scores for contestants only click on Detailed Scores at: www.skillsusa-register.org/rpts/EventScores.aspx. (To get these scores, you must have a contestant number and date of birth). This site also had the medalists by contest or state. Just click on “Medalists” to get this information. You can then view “All” or by the state or by the state and a specific contest. If you click on the very first box and select a year, you can see the old data from prior conferences.
Also, trade releases specific to each contest area are located at: www.skillsusa.org/about/mediakit.shtml. Please feel free to use the wording from these when publicizing your students’ participation (e.g., as a delegate, Courtesy Corps member, competitor, etc.) in the NLSC.
And, a reminder that a sample press release template has also been added to SkillsUSA’s advocacy site. It’s another way to help get the word out to the media. This press release is editable by the sender and can be sent to five media outlets at a time. The site can be reached by going to: www.skillsusa.org/about/policy.shtml and clicking on “advocacy site.”
Thanks to a generous donation by our friends at Harley-Davidson Motor Co., SkillsUSA hosted a drawing for a 2013 Dyna Super Glide® Motorcycle at the 2013 NLSC Awards Ceremony, Friday, June 28, in Kansas City, Mo. As a special addition to the raffle, Harley-Davidson teamed up with Justin Barnes to custom paint the bike. You may know Justin of JB Grafix from his appearances on the Discovery Channel program, “American Chopper.”
The winner of the custom-painted 2013 Dyna Super Glide was Brandon Hall from Pickens County Career & Technology Center in Liberty, S.C. Congratulations to Brandon and a special thank you to Harley-Davidson and JB Grafix.
I hope all chapter advisors will attend the special events today beginning at 7:45 a.m. CDT in the Count Basie Ballroom at the Marriott Downtown in Kansas City. There will be a continental breakfast followed by the Call to Action session where I’ll present SkillsUSA’s priorities for the coming year as well as national trends for career and technical education. Each attendee will receive a gift of appreciation and a chance to win other fabulous prizes. It’s all sponsored by 3M.
Afterwards, be sure and visit the SkillsUSA University session of your choice. A complete listing of sessions can be found here. SkillsUSA TECHSPO exhibits also continue today.
There are also many contests beginning today. SkillsUSA Championships contests are free and open to the public and can be found at Bartle Hall, Municipal Auditorium, American Royal, the Kansas City Firefighting Academy and Penn Valley Health Science Institute.
Tonight, the conference opens officially with the Opening Ceremony and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at Kemper Arena. Seating begins at 5:45 p.m. and all participants should arrive at least 45 minutes in advance. The ceremony itself begins at 7 p.m. CDT.
Mike Rowe will be the keynote speaker for the Opening Ceremony at this year’s National Leadership and Skills Conference. Thanks Caterpillar Inc. for sponsoring the Opening Ceremony and making it possible to have Mike Rowe at our conference.
Remember that the Opening Ceremony will be broadcast via the internet here. Thanks to Lowe’s for sponsoring our live web coverage.
SkillsUSA TECHSPO opens this morning at 8 a.m. It is the largest trade show for technical education. You can find booths outside on 13th Street and North Central between Municipal Auditorium and Bartle Hall. There are also a few special SkillsUSA University sessions beginning this morning.
New this year is TAG Tuesday (Train-Act-Grow). TAG Tuesday is a series of leadership activities to be held for delegates during national conference. In the morning, there will be workshops for high school chapter leaders and high school state officers and there will be separate workshops for college/postsecondary delegates on networking with business. The afternoon will offer experiential sessions for the high school delegates and one-on-one interviews with business representatives for the college/postsecondary delegates. TAG Tuesday is sponsored by Insurance Auto Auctions and Adesa.
Tonight at the Kansas City Power and Light District will be the Champions Night activity. Note: a state/national SkillsUSA shirt is required for entry. Champions Night is sponsored by Carhartt. Also at 7 p.m. is the 100-Percent Advisors Reception at the College Basketball Experience. Sponsored by Air Products, the event is for 100-percent chapter advisors only.