- Thanks to an introduction from Board President Russ Hoffbauer, staff and I met on June 7 with the president and senior vice president of Insurance Automotive Auctions (IAA), an automotive recycling business with 160 locations in 48 states. IAA is looking for talent in IT, management trainees and people with automotive experience. They saw a fit with the SkillsUSA mission, and they are interested in getting IAA involved at the state and local levels. They will both be attending conference.
- We reached out to sponsors to support CTE and the student organizations slated for cuts under California Governor Jerry Brown’s school finance reform proposal. I sent email to our sponsors on June 1 and June 6.
- On June 1, we had a very encouraging meeting with the CEO, executive vice president and chief engagement officer and the new student relations director of Project Lead the Way (PLTW). Rosanne White, Technology Student Association (TSA) executive director, joined us. PLTW is interested in working with both organizations again and has reopened discussion on the Engineering Alliance created by TSA and SkillsUSA previously. PLTW wants to increase the number of schools offering its curriculum by 800 next year, and they are very interested in teaching employability skills to students.
- On May 30-31, Arizona State Association Director Carrie Wolf and I went on a recruiting trip to Phoenix to start an Arizona Youth Development Foundation. Four companies have already pledged their support and agreed to serve.
- On May 25, the national staff directors held a retreat to discuss funding priorities with an eye toward achieving Vision 2020 goals. The meeting generated great discussion on SkillsUSA’s message, in addition to helping us take a more comprehensive look at our FY13 strategic plan and beyond. Congratulations go to the staff members who planned and lead the meeting, and thanks to ASE for inviting us to use their headquarters for the retreat.
- The National Coordinating Council of the Career and Technical Student Organizations (NCC-CTSO) met on May 24. One of the primary topics for discussion with Robin Utz from the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) was the administration’s blueprint for reform of Perkins. The NCC-CTSO is pleased to have an opportunity for early reaction to the blueprint, and the Council will be preparing its own white paper on the blueprint and Perkins reauthorization.
- Thanks to an introduction from board member Kathy Jo Mannes, I spoke on May 23 with representatives from Skills for America’s Future, an initiative by the administration tied in with The Aspen Institute. Their focus is to help find ways to build business and community college partnerships, and they’re looking to SkillsUSA to help.
- Finally, I was a special guest speaker for the Fredtech 2012 banquet in Fredericksburg, Va. on May 22. The Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce hosted the event and 21 students – all of them Virginia state medalists – were honored.
- Washington appointments for SkillsUSA WorldTeam are coming right along. We now have a confirmed appointment and location for a briefing on the House side hosted by the CTE Caucus. Both Representatives and Senators will be invited to the briefing. It also appears we’re set to meet with staff from the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee in the afternoon. Invitations have also been extended to The White House and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. We’re hopeful of team coverage in the AOL/Huffington Post in addition to continuing coverage in PARADE. The reporter working on the Huffington Post story said her editor saw the PARADE article and said: “Here’s the way to put a face on what we’re covering. Let’s do profiles of these students.”
- On September 7, SkillsUSA West Virginia Director Paul Lovett and I visited my alma mater Mercer County Technical Education Center. We spoke to 24 teachers and administrators, did some training and delivered some SkillsUSA materials. The result? Mercer County Tech is going to be a 100 percent school with 600 members.
- On September 16, I joined Rosanne White and Sandy Honour of Technology Student Association in Baltimore for a meeting with Dr. Vince Bertram, the new CEO of Project Lead the Way. It was our first opportunity to do an orientation on the two organizations for Dr. Bertram and to discuss a relaunch of the Engineering Alliance. Dr. Bertram was extremely interested, and we’ll follow up with a proposal.
- And, on September 22, I presented to the U.S. Department of Labor Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship near Baltimore, Md. They wanted me to speak about SkillsUSA because they believe there are many areas in which we can be cooperating. I was accompanied by Caleb Houston our parliamentarian from Ohio. The opportunity was created in large part by our long-time friend Bob Baird of the Independent Electrical Contractors, along with Steve Mandes of National Institute for Metalworking Skills and Greg Chambers of Oberg Industries, Inc.
Membership as of Friday was 269,044 and that’s exceeding the previous year same day total by 15,960. We have just about two weeks until the membership deadline, and we’re cautiously optimistic.
We added a new corporate partner. Blaklader-North America has come on board as an unrestricted sponsor for the SkillsUSA Championships.
The 2011 Lowe’s SkillsUSA Grants have been announced. Schools and colleges received Community Service Grants in 12 states and Campus Improvement Grants in 16 states. The list can be found at: www.skillsusa.org/educators/lowesgrants.shtml#Lowes 2011.
Two representatives from Project Lead the Way (PLTW) came to the SkillsUSA National Leadership Center to visit recently. Rosanne White and Sandy Honour of TSA (Technology Student Association) joined us. The discussion was around a new online portfolio program developed by PLTW to encourage student innovation for pre-engineering students. It’s supported by a grant from the Kern Family Foundation and is tied in with the Small Business Administration. They also pledged continued financial support for Engineering Alliance Web updates this year.
We’re working on the strategy for the April Youth Development Foundation Committee meeting visits in Washington, D.C. We know the committee will have great things to say about career and technical education and SkillsUSA.
- On September 7, three representatives of organized labor met with us here at the national center. The thrust of the meeting was to explore ways the AFL-CIO and SkillsUSA could be working together more closely, particularly, in image building for the skilled trades and recruitment of our students into apprenticeships. As they said: “These are the people we want to hire.” Leading the meeting was Robert J. Pleasure, special assistant to the president of the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO. He was joined by Eric L. Packard, training specialist with the UA (United Association of Plumbers and Pipe Fitters) and our old friend, Rick Sullivan, from the Ironworkers. The meeting began with a presentation by two of our national student officers, Robin Cronbaugh, Region V vice president, and Sam Soto, college/postsecondary president.
- The National Coordinating Council for the Career and Technical Student Organizations met in Reston, Va. on September 15. Included with the regular business meeting was a special presentation on social networking called “socialnomics.” We know that as student organizations, we have a lot to consider with social networking as a way to reach students, but also to protect our brand. It was a great presentation by ACTE (Association for Career and Technical Education) and FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America). Other SkillsUSA staff attended the session as well.
- We’re working on our Vision 2020 goal of reaching one million people per year. I spoke recently with Richard Grimsley of Project Lead the Way (PLTW) and Rosanne White of the Technology Student Organization about marketing for Engineering Alliance (EA). PLTW has a goal of reaching into 15,000 middle and high schools by 2015. If EA takes off, SkillsUSA will be connected to those schools too.
- On September 10, YDF member Bill Maddox of N.E.W. took a group of our staff members to a Washington Nationals baseball game, and we got to watch from the N.E.W. suite at the ballpark. Bill is looking to secure the box for next season to offer it as a SkillsUSA membership mega prize.
- The SkillsUSA CEO Champion of the Year dinner is shaping up nicely and the pledges are coming in. The award is going to be special too. The design is based on the SkillsUSA Championships gold medallion. I’m looking forward to the presentation.
- SkillsUSA WorldTeam is coming together as well. Our goal is to compete in 20 contests, so that means 22 students will fill out the team for 2011. We have 16 selected thus far. News releases should be going out by early October.
- Staff reports alumni membership has now reached 17,000 and four states – New York, Texas, Maine and Ohio – have held meetings to establish state alumni associations.
- Staff reports that the Work Force Ready System Web site had been updated and made more customer-friendly. He says several states have inquired about state purchases of assessments for both pre- and post-testing and that we’re now offering more extensive state reporting.
- And, we just finished the Washington Leadership Training Institute (WLTI), and it was a huge success. We had about 240 people registered including 151 student leaders, 73 instructors and 12 SkillsUSA state association directors. Board President Russ Hoffbauer joined the national officers and me on visits in Washington. I’ll be reporting more extensively about WLTI next time.
Advance notice went to the state association directors on February 25 that the Web site for Engineering Alliance was live. To see the site, go to www.engineeringalliance.org. Project Lead The Way (PLTW) sent announcement e-mail from John Lock, CEO, on March 4 to PLTW school administrators and instructors.
SkillsUSA sent out the news release announcing the Engineering Alliance to 477 editors and reporters in the education press and a list of education and engineering trade publications created specifically for the Engineering Alliance. The release also was sent out on PR Web through our SkillsUSA service, and we know that in over 24 hours, there were nearly 64,500 headline impressions and 790 full-page reads on the World Wide Web. Here’s the link to the release: http://www.skillsusa.org/downloads/PDF/pressreleases/engalliance.pdf.
Today, March 1, SkillsUSA is announcing the Engineering Alliance in conjunction with Project Lead The Way (PLTW) and the Technology Student Association (TSA). Engineering Alliance has been created at the request of PLTW, its instructors and state departments of education. Engineering Alliance draws upon the expertise of TSA and SkillsUSA in leadership instruction and competitions to benefit PLTW instruction.
Simply stated, PLTW saw the value of our employability skills instruction and competitive events and wanted to add them into the PLTW curriculum for pre-engineering students and teachers.
Engineering Alliance (EA) does not include membership in TSA or SkillsUSA but it doesn’t preclude it either. PLTW programs are encouraged to join either organization as members if they wish to take the competition and leadership experience beyond the local level. Engineering Alliance is an affiliation; it’s not a membership program. It’s similar to a classroom subscription. PLTW programs can sign up for online services including leadership activities and competitions designed specifically for their instructional programs. These services are delivered directly from the national level to the classrooms. Competitions are to be conducted at the classroom level only. They do not have district or state-level components.
The news release announcing Engineering Alliance has been sent to the education news media today and is posted at www.skillsusa.org/about/news.shtml. The link to the Engineering Alliance Web site is live. Go to www.EngineeringAlliance.org.
Thank you in advance for your support of Engineering Alliance. SkillsUSA hopes that this is one more step in its mission of lifting up students, teachers and CTE.
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