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Executive Director’s Report: February 1, 2014

February 1st, 2014

The 14th Annual Strategic Planning Session
Staff broke into teams and analyzed data from the field and brainstormed solutions. As a result, we have a draft FY15 Strategic Plan in place. New areas of focus include strategic membership focus, building state leader capacity, focus on SkillsUSA as a skills gap solution and a connector to STEM education and SkillsUSA’s 50th Anniversary celebration. The organization’s work will center around nine macro objectives that rise to the board-mandated areas of focus and are inclusive of the new areas listed above. We took the draft plan to the State Directors’ Association Executive Council Meeting in Sarasota, Florida on January 29. Following state director input and staff review, we will develop the budget for FY15 and bring the plan and budget to the board for review and approval in March.

Meeting of National Coordinating Council
I recently attended the bi-monthly meeting of the National Coordinating Council for Career and Technical Student Organizations (NCC-CTSO). Several very important reports were given.

The U.S. Department of Education has released a new Employability Skills Framework and made a presentation to the career and technical student organizations (CTSOs) regarding the content and dissemination strategy. We are very pleased that our employability skills curricula and assessments are in direct alignment with the new framework. The framework is also cross-walked to the Common Core Standards and Common Core Career Technical Standards.You can view the employability skills framework at: http://CTE.ed.gov/employabilityskills/.

ACTE and state CTE directors also announced good news regarding federal funding for CTE. An omnibus bill was released Monday and $53 million was reinstated to the Perkins legislation. This is only $5 million short of the funding level prior to sequestration. SkillsUSA and the other CTSOs were commended for the advocacy work to make this funding reinstatement possible. And, thanks to board and foundation members who accompanied our students on Capitol Hill last September, for their role in this effort.

ACTE announced efforts to position CTE as key to STEM education. Again, this aligns perfectly with our strategy to position SkillsUSA in the same manner. And, we look forward to working with ACTE and other CTE associations in moving the STEM/CTE agenda forward.

There are also other advocacy opportunities on the horizon. On February 18, we will be sending a national student officer to Washington, D.C. to meet with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier. This will be a listening session called “Youth Voices” to gather student opinion on the U.S. Department of Education’s goals. And, last week, more than 50 students and advisors from Ohio visited the U.S. Department of Education and provided their input to the new employability skills framework and other department initiatives.

And, finally, a letter has been sent to President Obama and signed by each CTSO national president, requesting an appointment during CTE Month in February. This proposed meeting will allow our student leaders to discuss the importance of CTE and the technical and academic knowledge they are gaining in their training programs, as well as the life skills gained through their student leadership organizations. We are hopeful this meeting will occur. We will also be announcing SkillsUSA Week during the second week of February (9th-15th).

Highlights

  • On Monday, January 13, select staff had a good meeting with Jennifer McNelly and her staff from The Manufacturing Institute. We are working together on digital manufacturing badges for SkillsUSA students’ electronic portfolios, on a “Youth Voices” campaign for manufacturing and participation in NAM’s Dream It, Do It program and for involvement in Manufacturing Day next October.
  • Moving forward with SkillsUSA’s strategic communications audit and with the help of Stratton Publishing and Marketing Inc., SkillsUSA conducted two focus groups on Jan. 20, with the visiting state officers and their advisors from Ohio. Focus group feedback will form the basis for the next step – a questionnaire to be sent to a sampling of students and teachers. The end goal is to have timely, high-quality and valuable content for our SkillsUSA members that better aligns with student and advisor needs.
  • In an effort to meet the needs of college/postsecondary members, a college/postsecondary task force meeting was held last November in which state directors, instructors and students from five states participated. As a follow-up to the task force meeting, a separate meeting was recently held with Tennessee college/postsecondary state director, Chelle Travis. Many items from the task force meeting were fine-tuned, and an outline was developed to produce a separate college/postsecondary membership kit.
  • SkillsUSA held a Common Core Task Force meeting on January 20-22 in the Washington-Dulles area. State directors, teachers, teacher educators and CTE state directors from Georgia, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska and Rhode Island joined national staff to create a set of objectives that will lead students to become proficient in 21st Century employability skills. These objectives will also be aligned with the Common Core State Standards. 

That’s it for now. Thanks for all you do for the great students and teachers we serve.

The University of Phoenix and the Manufacturing Institute Scholarship Opportunity

April 15th, 2013

The University of Phoenix and The Manufacturing Institute are offering ten full-tuition scholarships toward a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a manufacturing-related degree program at University of Phoenix. Aimed at developing a new generation of skilled and competitive manufacturing workers, the scholarships will allow recipients to choose online or ground classes so they can continue their career while earning their degrees. Eligible candidates must be currently employed by a manufacturer or interested in pursuing a manufacturing career; not be currently enrolled at University of Phoenix; and apply between March 5, 2013 and April 30, 2013.

Visit: www.phoenix.edu/tuition_and_financial_options/scholarships/manufacturing-institute-scholarship.html for details, including complete eligibility and application information.

Highlights

March 15th, 2013
  • A staff member attended a meeting at the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) on February 28 called by the Alcoa Foundation, who wanted to put SkillsUSA, Project Lead the Way, The Manufacturing Institute and Junior Achievement officials together to brainstorm on challenges in developing the manufacturing workforce and in combating negative public and educational perceptions of manufacturing. Later that day, staff engaged The Manufacturing Institute and PLTW officials in discussions on administration of and criteria for awarding digital manufacturing “badges.”
  • And, looking ahead a little bit, the SkillsUSA WorldTeam has an appointment to visit the German Embassy during the team’s Washington, D.C. training program, April 26-29.

SkillsUSA Highlighted during Washington Symposium

January 15th, 2013

Board member Joe Pietrantonio of Air Products served as a panelist at the Talent Driven Innovation – Best Practices Symposium on November 28th at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The Symposium was sponsored by The Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte and was moderated by The Manufacturing Institute’s Jennifer McNelly, a member of our Youth Development Foundation Committee. Joe participated in a discussion on “How Global Businesses Operate Public-Private Partnerships.” Joe used Air Products’ positive experience with SkillsUSA extensively in his remarks, and his fellow panelists from Toyota, Alcoa Foundation and Haas Automation also spoke on the benefits of their respective company’s relationships with SkillsUSA. There were positive references to SkillsUSA throughout the Symposium, but especially during the above-referenced panel. Joe said he was pleased with how much positive reaction occurred after the panel discussion, including the enthusiastic support of Assistant Secretary of Labor Jane Oates.

In a related development, in December Deloitte requested additional information about SkillsUSA and our partnerships for a report entitled “Manufacturing for Growth” that Deloitte and the World Economic Forum will premiere at the Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland this month. SkillsUSA was recommended to Deloitte as an example of a best-practice, public-private partnership “based on conversations we have had with leaders around the world.” We sent in all of the information. This will be one more step toward being “internationally known” as we say in Vision 2020.

Highlights

November 15th, 2012

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.

More Recognition for Students in Manufacturing

March 31st, 2012

Students can now earn additional recognition for their participation in SkillsUSA under a grant from the MacArthur and Mozilla Foundations. The Manufacturing Institute led the proposal with input from SkillsUSA and Project Lead the Way to earn digital badges credentialing students who have attained skills through learning organizations. Over 500 teams applied for the grants and only four were selected. Other winners include Disney/Pixar and NASA’s Robotics and STEM System.

SkillsUSA students in manufacturing programs will earn the badge by doing two of the following: earning a Skill Connect certificate; winning a medal in a state-level Championships; earning levels one and two in the Professional Development Program; and, receiving a manufacturing certification.


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