April 1st, 2010
The SkillsUSA Board of Directors and the Youth Development Foundation Committee met March 17 and 18 at the National Leadership Center. During my flight to Wyoming after the meeting, I sat back for a few minutes to reflect on how much the Board of Directors and the YDF Committee mean to this organization. That particularly hit home as the 24 members of the Board and YDF introduced themselves during our joint meeting on March 18. I just thought to myself: “Wow. Look at the breadth and depth of experience we have here in this room. We are extremely fortunate to have such an engaged, committed and high-powered group of individuals governing and guiding our work.” Here is a brief report on the highlights of the meetings.
The board approved the FY11 strategic plan and budget. This is the first strategic plan to be directed by the new Vision 2020 goal statements. The joint meeting of the YDF and board expressed a consensus to move forward with the WorldTeam for London in 2011, support for the Alumni & Friends Association initiative and for SkillsUSA’s Vision 2020.
In addition, the board revised the SkillsUSA mission statement. It now reads: “SkillsUSA empowers its members to become world-class workers, leaders and responsible American citizens.” The revision is the addition of the word “leaders.” Board members believed that SkillsUSA’s focus on teaching leadership should be manifest in the mission statement. And, the board revised the core statement to read: “SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled work force. SkillsUSA helps each student excel.” The sole change was the substitution of “SkillsUSA” for “It” at the beginning of the second sentence. These changes will be made to the SkillsUSA publications and online.
The board also established an ad hoc subcommittee to work on state association governance and financial standards. The board wants to be sure our state associations are and continue to be healthy. That includes having features such as industry support. The subcommittee will be looking for gaps where states need assistance and crafting recommendations on how the national organization might help. The state association directors currently serving on the board – Curtis Barnett and Larry Rabalais – are members of the subcommittee.
The board meeting highlighted something else: Four of the five regional representatives will be leaving the board of directors in June. We will have vacancies in Regions I, II, III and V. We’re asking the board and state association directors to nominate corporate members from their regions soon so we’re ready for elections come June.
February 15th, 2010
I met on Tuesday, Feb. 2, with the directors and then with the staff to present and then discuss a proposed realignment of staff responsibilities. For the most part, departments have remained about the same for the past nine years. During that same time, however, initiatives and programs have been added although few have been dropped. In light of Vision 2020 and strategic planning for the FY 2011-12 years I felt it was time to shift some responsibilities around so we can ensure high-quality service to our members and deliver the same high-quality service to our partners. Changes in the alignment of responsibilities will be phased in during the remainder of this fiscal year and then be fully in place in FY11.
February 1st, 2010
Our Tenth Annual Week of Excitement (also known as the week of national staff strategic planning) took place January 12-15. The focus included a number of major initiatives already underway – such as the Work Force Ready System and the Engineering Alliance – and what objectives will help move us to the Vision 2020 goals.
We’re still in the process of evaluating department recommendations. At present, we have 12 pages of objectives (including a few tactics) in the five goal areas. Oftentimes objectives submitted by departments overlap each other, but that usually tells us we’ve hit upon an important action area. Frequently mentioned among the objectives is more extensive use of communications, networking and news media. This includes updating and using new technology that will be needed to keep pace with the needs of our members and partners. There are also many references to alumni, inclusion and diversity, grant management and fund raising. We’re confident we are putting in place the things we’ll need to reach our SkillsUSA vision for 2020.
January 15th, 2010
Happy New Year. Things were quiet around here two weeks ago as staff enjoyed time with family and friends during the week leading up to the New Year, but the pace has certainly picked up since then. We’re back in the swing and just completed our “Tenth Annual Week of Excitement” during strategic planning this week.
The excitement began on Tuesday, January 12, with a full staff meeting for the day to review our progress this past year, discuss our current initiatives and then we took a long look forward toward the goals in Vision 2020. We wrote objectives by departments toward reaching those goals in the FY2011 and FY2012 plans, over the next two days and then the directors convened today for a reporting session. Preliminary objectives will go to the state association directors’ executive committee next week. At this pace, it feels as though the year will be over before we know it.
December 15th, 2009
The students SkillsUSA will be serving in the year 2020 might be as young as five or six years old today. (Upon reflection, that means some of today’s SkillsUSA members might well be those students’ teachers.) We want to be ready for them, so national SkillsUSA staff met on Tuesday, December 8, for a half-day on the board-initiated Vision 2020 planning process.
Directors and staff members have conducted research over the past months in all six of the vision statement areas including expansion of the SkillsUSA brand; membership; alumni; building our partner network and our program offerings, and building and sustaining the organization including its financial strength. Directors and teams gave brief presentations on their findings and then fielded reactions and recommendations from staff. The research and staff comments – some of which are now being submitted in writing – will put in place objectives and many of the appropriate strategies for staff to consider when we go into strategic planning in January.
The discussion began with research in four megatrend areas that are most pertinent to SkillsUSA: the aging of the world’s population (and what that means for careers as well); technological development; the acceleration of change; and, network organizing. The discussion looked back a decade to get some perspective on how much really can and does change in a brief time. That included the introduction of both the ipod and Wikipedia in 2001 and the initial public offering of Google in 2004. Among the findings:
- The labor market will be a seller’s market. Skilled young workers will be in even higher demand and that will be true worldwide.
- The most important technological developments will be in information technology, biotechnology, nano-technology and energy. Computers will be 200 times faster than today and storage may be 1,000 times as large.
- The rate of change will continue and those businesses that are not change-oriented will be left behind. One of the drivers of change reflected in technology is the Fiber Law for Internet communications that predicts bandwidth capacity will double every nine months.
- Network organizing – and SkillsUSA is a strong network of members and partners – will also accelerate and grow. Thanks to things such as the Internet, the speed and reach of networks will continue to evolve globally. According to Metcalfe’s Law, the power of a network goes up exponentially by the number of people interacting with it. Collaboration technology such as cloud computing, enterprise social networks and wikis will be widely used.
These are among the many things SkillsUSA will need to plan for in 2020 or before.
April 1st, 2009
The board held a productive two-and-one-half hour Webinar meeting on March 19 chaired by board President Cameron Ferguson. Nearly all of the board members were present for the meeting, and they plowed through a fairly heavy agenda. Among the significant outcomes:
The board approved a revised FY2009 budget reflecting some moves to be cautious with SkillsUSA budgets during these challenging economic times. SkillsUSA appears to be well positioned to handle the current recession, but staff and board want to be sure none of SkillsUSA’s essential services to its members are interrupted. That is the reason for the budget course correction.
The board approved the FY2010 strategic plan and budget with some amendments to the objectives that will address the need to build alumni membership and to prepare for budget adjustments in FY2010 if warranted by the economy.
The board also reviewed and commended the work of the Vision 2020 committee. Vision 2020 is a board initiative to assure that SkillsUSA is working strategically to create the place where it needs to be for its members 12 years from now. Subsequent meetings are scheduled for the committee to craft the organization’s vision and to be prepared to share it with SkillsUSA members and leaders during the national conference in June.
Much of the committee work was done in online meetings held March 10-12. The board reviewed the committee work during its full meeting on the 19th. Thanks go out to the three committees.
This was Kelly Bever’s last official board meeting. Kelly assured the board she would still “be around” and ensured State Farm’s continuity on the board by asking Russ Hoffbauer, director, Property and Casualty Claims at State Farm, to fill her position. Thanks go to Kelly for her work on behalf of SkillsUSA. She has particularly looked out after our students. We look forward to working with Russ.
March 15th, 2009
On March 5, we met with seven corporate executives to help us think strategically about what SkillsUSA should be doing to involve CEOs or other appropriate executives in SkillsUSA. We began our meeting with the Executive Advisory Group with an overview of the SkillsUSA program and accomplishments this past year and then took a quick look at the draft of our Vision 2020 document. Then we moved onto some of our priority funding projects to get the committee’s reaction. We received several recommendations on what are appropriate expectations for an alumni association and ways to develop staffing to carry out grants. Particular thanks go to executives of Adayana, Best Buy, Deere & Co., K2Share, Techtronic Industries (TTI), Snap-on Industrial, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Wes Bartlett, western region vice president of SkillsUSA Maryland brought greetings and stayed to participate in the meeting. It was great to have him here.
January 15th, 2009
This week is the ninth annual “Week of Excitement” when staff gets together for strategic planning. The staff completed an online questionnaire that gave us a good jump-start on the very important SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis. While we’ve gone through the SWOT process in the past, this is the first time we’ve done it online; and that’s one reason we held only a single-day meeting as a full staff. In addition to staff input, we received data from students, teachers, B&I partners and state association directors. The opinions of all our stakeholder groups will be considered in our FY10-11 strategic plan. The balance of this week was spent in department and special committee meetings. Almost immediately following, we take the draft of the plan to the State Association Director Executive Committee for meetings beginning January 21.
The next step is Vision 2020 following the state association director meeting in Ft. Lauderdale on January 24. Stakeholders will include an instructor, two students, a school administrator, an alumni member, a Job Corps educator and several members of the SkillsUSA Board of Directors. Steve Pierz, strategic program manager, common components, Caterpillar, will be facilitating the process. He knows his stuff, and it has been great working with him. He’s helped us devise the questionnaires for the field and staff and, I firmly believe that high-level vision SkillsUSA will have for 2020 and the sub-goals to get us there are going to be very useful to the organization. As you might be able to tell, I’m looking forward to the meeting.