- 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.
- 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/.
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.
- 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.
Membership stands at about 298,564 and 30 states have now exceeded their membership last year.
On February 22, we sent an e-mail to our industry partners asking them to sign on to a letter addressed to the Senate requesting restoration of funding to the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. The letter was from the Association of Career and Technical Education, the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium, the American Association of Community Colleges and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Several of SkillsUSA’s business partners signed on too. There were 168 business and organization signatories overall when the letter was sent recently. This is the start of what will likely be a very active advocacy season.
On March 1, the Lowe’s Campus Improvement and Community Service grant checks were sent to 34 schools and colleges. The total amount? $324,800. There had to be a lot of people smiling when the checks arrived. And, while on the subject, we heard last week from Lowe’s that Georgia-Pacific will once again co-sponsor the Opening Ceremony of the 2011 national conference.
We held a Chapter Management Institute here at headquarters on February 22, a wintry day when some of the area schools were closed, but 14 teachers came from three nearby states for training.
On February 23, staff and I attended the Destination and Travel Foundation dinner hosted by convention and visitors bureaus from across the country. We were invited by the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association and also met with the Louisville CVB while we were there.
By popular demand, I’m a video again. Staff has created a four-minute video for the national office to send greetings to the states during their spring conferences. It’s available online and on DVD. I’m in there and so is the Vision 2020 message. I believe the video is quite effective.
On February 24, I went to Baltimore for a meeting with the mid-Atlantic region U.S. Army Accessions Command. There was lots of interesting information on Army recruiting and I’ll be putting our state association directors in touch with the command regarding opportunities to support and promote SkillsUSA in the region.
On February 25, Second Eden Studios conducted an energy audit on the National Leadership Center. The preliminary report was delivered to the board of directors at their March meeting. The final report will be released in June.
And, finally, staff worked with the national officers in Kansas City, March 3-5, getting ready for their roles at the national conference.
- Membership as of January 31 stood at 243,342. That’s 9,927 over our membership on this date last year.
- As a follow-up to our challenge to make our national headquarters campus energy neutral by 2020, we met by teleconference with DPZ Architects and Town Planners and with Second Eden Studio, a green consultant/design firm. Since that meeting, we have received a quote from Second Eden Studio to conduct an energy audit of our building/campus. The audit will help us determine the needs and budget for this initiative over the next nine years.
- Recently, I was in Chicago, meeting with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) and their affiliate staff members who manage “ProStart” and “ServSafe” certificate programs. I met with NRAEF program managers and the interim executive director. We agreed to crosswalk our technical standards with their national standards and to align them as fully as possible. NRAEF also agreed to appoint a representative to serve on our national technical committee for culinary arts.
- While the Ohio group was here, Momentum, one of the U.S. Army’s agencies, and representatives of the Army met us to discuss our partnership and how to engage in more students at the local and state levels. They joined staff and the Ohio group for lunch and heard very passionate presentations by our students.
- And, we’re still carrying the word on state association boards. Staff traveled to Massachusetts to assist its board with strategic planning, and I went to Arizona to conduct board training and strategic planning. As a result of our work together, the Arizona board and I developed a new strategic plan for the state association. The national office staff produced and published the plan, and it was e-mailed to all Arizona board members within one week of our meeting.
- Membership as of January 13th stands at more than 202,944 or more than 13,268 over our membership on this date last year.
- Speaking of membership, the Membership Mega Prize program is gaining sponsorships including the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau, N.E.W. Customer Service, Klein Tools, Kobalt Tools and IRWIN tools. For information on the drive to increase our membership through incentives, please go to www.skillsusa.org/join/megaprize.shtml.
- The report on the State Farm grant is complete, and staff did an extensive job recently reviewing Lowe’s applications for campus improvement and community service grants. To view it online, go to www.skillsusa.org/educators/statefarm.shtml.
- This year’s national staff charitable donation was to benefit the 27-year old son of a cosmetology teacher at C.S. Monroe Technology Center in Leesburg. The young man has a family, lost his job and his health benefits and is being treated for cancer. The national staff was extremely generous and the donation was genuinely appreciated. A lot of students at the school are also working to raise money for the same cause.
- Bruce Potter’s official last day with the national staff was Tuesday, December 28 and he has moved on to begin his new job as high school state association director for New York state. We wish him all the best.
- National staff worked through strategic planning this week. It was our 11th Week of Excitement. We took some different approaches this year, beginning with Vision 2020 and the big picture, and then wrote some macro objectives to which we wrote department strategies, tactics and business plans. It was very exciting. We’ll be making our first report on new objectives to the state association director association officers at the end
Activities began with the board meeting on November 30. The meeting was well attended, both in person and online. The first quarter report for FY11 showed our work to be ahead of schedule. We had a good report and discussion on the Work Force Ready System as well as discussion about the national conference in Kansas City. Vision 2020 was approved in its online form, and the board requested that a summary statement be prepared to replace the vision that currently appears in the strategic plan. And, revisions to the FY11 budget were approved.
A big thank you goes to The Southern Nevada Career and Technical Academy in Las Vegas for hosting our board meeting. Culinary students prepared lunch and provided snacks throughout the day. The school provided excellent meeting facilities and great technology for the board Web conference. Three SkillsUSA Nevada state officers were with us. It was great to meet inside one of our schools. School administrators told the board that the school’s dropout rate is less than 1 percent. That’s a sign of what CTE can do. (Oh, and former SkillsUSA board member Mike Raponi is now the official Nevada CTE director. It was great to see him too.)