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ACTIVE ADVISOR NEWS April 2014

April 1st, 2014

Update from Tim Lawrence 

Record-setting Membership Year
SkillsUSA is enjoying a record-setting membership year with 309,686 members to date. This number represents the highest level of paid membership in the organization’s history as well as the largest growth in membership since school year 2007-2008. This year, SkillsUSA staff has provided a new and improved membership kit; a new hotline dedicated to answer membership questions; membership registration site enhancements; new educational resources; state association director workshops; and, new advisor toolkits. The following chart shows members served since 2005.

Membership Chart

 

Skills Shortage Support Information
As we look forward to the FY15 Strategic Plan, we developed a new focus on the skilled worker shortage and STEM education. But, we’re not waiting because work in these areas has already begun. At the 2013 NLSC, we had a top executive from The Manpower Group attend as a special guest. Manpower just published the research report from the 2103 Global Talent Shortage Survey. For the seventh year in a row, skilled trades workers represent the number one category of jobs that employers worldwide are finding difficulty filling. And, technicians are, once again, in the top five, coming in at number four in the rank.

As we look at the work of SkillsUSA in helping with these pipeline issues, we also look at the reasons why employers are having difficulty finding the necessary talent: 48 percent of employers cited the lack of technical competencies (hard skills) and 33 percent cited the lack of workplace competencies (soft skills). This data comes from 40,000 employers across 42 countries and territories. Therefore, we believe it’s not much of a stretch to say that SkillsUSA is certainly a part of the solution, particularly when we look at the hard and soft skill needs of these employers. You can see a short video summary of the report data at this link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=iu0ADHgFeKI and the full report with other interesting facts about the global shortages at this link: www.manpowergroup.us/campaigns/talent-shortage-2013/pdf/2013_Talent_Shortage_Survey_Results_US_lo_0510.pdf.

Applying Skills Internationally in Pursuit of Access to Clean Water
The SkillsUSA Business Partnerships and Development office is working on a project for SkillsUSA to collaborate with the World Plumbing Council to field a multi-disciplined team of three students (plumbers and engineers under the age of 26) to compete at the Water Innovation Challenge in Singapore, June 3 – 5, 2014. The theme of this pilot competition sponsored by WorldSkills Foundation is “new water–ways in which to create and control water supplies in specific international community environments.”

Teams will participate in a series of hands-on design challenges and practical tasks. The competition will take place over three days as the teams develop a series of real and innovative solutions for emerging water and sanitation problems in two developing countries: Nepal and Bangladesh.

The challenge’s impact on developing countries looks promising. Design toolkits created by winning teams during the competition will be made available to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international development organizations to support innovative individual plumbing and sanitation development projects around the world.

Thank you for all you do for the great students we serve.

Work Force Ready System Skill Connect Assessments

Available Assessments
SkillsUSA assessments offers over 40 technical and employability assessments in 10 cluster areas including four co-branded assessments with ASE/AYES and five co-branded assessments with PrintED/GAERF.  For a complete list of assessments and the blueprints that describe the standards, competencies and academic skills tied to each assessment, go to:  www.workforcereadysystem.org/technical_areas.shtml

New User ID Field
An optional User ID field inputted during the creation of the student username account can be used to further identify the student in the grade reports. Student ID’s, district, state or any other identification codes can be used in this field. A maximum of 12 alpha or numeric characters are permitted.

To Order Skill Connect Assessments, go to: www.workforcereadysystem.org , click the link “Order Skill Connect Assessments.” Next, click the button “Buy Now” or the link for step-by-step instructions if you need a visual job aid to help you through the ordering process. Test vouchers are non-refundable and are good for one year from purchase date. Voucher exchanges from one assessment area to another are permitted.

Prepare For Testing
Ensure you read the five-step “Testing Instructions” prior to test day at: www.workforcereadysystem.org/testing.shtml. Information on hardware and software requirements, registration of students, voucher distribution and accessing grade reports can be found here. Additional help on these various steps can be viewed by a webinar. See the archived training webinar “Assessment Ordering and Management Tools” at: http://www.workforcereadysystem.org/webinars.shtml.

Certificates
Printing certificates for students who have met the industry cut-score is easy and can be accessed in the grade book by the authorized administrator or by the student. Click on the Course Status “Completed” to display and print the certificates.

Assessment Support
Please note our new phone number, email address and hours of operation:

Direct: 1-866-444-7779
Email: support@skillconnect.org
Help Desk Support Hours: Mon.- Fri. 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. EDT

2014 Alumni Pin Design Winner
SkillsUSA alumni member, Gayle Brodie, won the 2014 alumni pin design competition. She was a student at Abram Friedman Occupational Center in Los Angeles, where she is now an instructor and SkillsUSA advisor. Her pin design commemorates SkillsUSA?s 50th national conference. This is the only commemorative pin being produced this year and will only be sold at the alumni booth during the national conference.
Alumni Pin

SkillsUSA Champions Magazine
Our Summer 2014 issue will be arriving in the mail later this month. It focuses on enterprising students who are using their skills creatively, from competing in SkillsUSA events to a starting a business. Also featured is a student leader who found in SkillsUSA a way to transition from a long military career into civilian life. And, another story and photos tell how students recovered to compete in our national championships only weeks after a tornado destroyed their projects.

These articles are sure to motivate and inspire. A lesson plan for discussing the issue with your students will be posted online at: www.skillsusa.org/champions/.

Magazine Photo Contest
Please consider sending photos for our “Image” page in SkillsUSA Champions. Students and advisors can submit photos that show SkillsUSA members in action. Photography or graphic arts students may already have projects that are suitable. We currently do not have a photo selected for the Fall 2014 issue. The winning photographer’s chapter will receive a $150 prize check and, of course, the thrill of seeing his or her work in print. For details, email Tom Hall, editor, at thall@skillsusa.org.

Sharon Melton Myers Memorial Scholarship
Through a donation from the Sharon Melton Myers Memorial Fund, SkillsUSA and the McMinn County Vocational Center SkillsUSA Alumni Association are offering a $500 scholarship to a high school SkillsUSA student in memory of Sharon Melton Myers. The Sharon Melton Myers Memorial SkillsUSA Scholarship fund will provide graduating high school SkillsUSA members of this year’s graduating class the opportunity to continue their education in college or technical school.

Candidates can nominate themselves. All nominations must include two letters of recommendation from any of the following individuals: a) instructors; b) SkillsUSA advisors; c) State Association Director; d) Community leader.  A nomination form can be downloaded from SkillsUSA’s website at: https://skillsusa.wufoo.com/forms/r7x1q3/.  Please note that incomplete applications, those missing requested information and appropriate signatures, will be disqualified and not be evaluated. Only high school seniors are eligible for this scholarship. Nominations must be postmarked by April 30. If you have questions, please contact Karen Beatty 703-737-0624, kbeatty@skillsusa.org.

SkillsUSA Official Graduation Regalia
Be sure to recognize the hard work and achievements of your graduates with the gift of official SkillsUSA graduation regalia. SkillsUSA stoles, tassels and honor cords can be purchased now before the rush of graduation season sets in. Just go to: www.skillsusastore.org to order.

Alumni Membership Incentive
The Alumni Coordinating Committee is offering an incentive for SkillsUSA advisors who sign up alumni from their chapters. For every five members an advisor registers with the SkillsUSA Alumni & Friends Association, he or she will be entered into a drawing for a $100 Lowe’s gift card.

To be officially entered into the drawing, the advisor must have students register online at: www.skillsusa.org/supporters/alumni.shtml. Paper forms will not be accepted. The advisor must then send an email to Byekwaso Gilbert at bgilbert@skillsusa.org. The email must contain all of the following:

  • The advisor’s name, school, address, phone and email (make sure what you provide will be accessible to you after June 1)
  • A list (for verification) of the students (first and last names) who registered as alumni

Remember that graduating seniors qualify to register during their senior year. Former SkillsUSA students are also eligible, provided they are not members already. These students must register through their former advisor to be counted as part of that advisor’s entry. Students may only register once. Deadline for entry into the drawing is June 1.

Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Raffle
Thanks to a generous donation by our friends at Harley-Davidson Motor Co., SkillsUSA will be raffling off a Dyna Street Bob Motorcycle at the 2014 National Leadership and Skills Conference Awards Ceremony on Friday, June 27, in Kansas City. The bike will feature a custom paint job incorporating the SkillsUSA 50th anniversary design by Justin Barnes of JB Grafix. The SkillsUSA Alumni & Friends Association will be the beneficiary of this year’s raffle.

Harley-Davidson Dyna Bob 

Buy your tickets online NOW! You do not need to be present to win. Go to: www.skillsusa.org/store/harley.shtml.

Activate for Chapter Student Leaders
Activate will be held June 21 – 23, 2014, in Bartle Hall of the Kansas City Convention Center, Kansas City, Mo. The cost is $135 per participant.

Activate is a ground-breaking, two-and-a-half-day leadership conference that will help SkillsUSA members find their “start button” through action-oriented, high-energy and motivational programming. Activate is open to all SkillsUSA members.

During the course of the conference, chapter leaders will discover how to ignite the leader in them and how to maximize their potential. Participants will spend time learning what motivates them and how to motivate others. They will take a look at what it means to present a positive image — and the effects that image can have not only on themselves, but also on their school, SkillsUSA, and career and technical education. Students will complete the course feeling empowered with the necessary tools for success. Visit: www.skillsusa-register.org to register for Activate.

Engage for Chapter Advisors
Engage will be held June 21 – 23, 2014, in Bartle Hall of the Kansas City Convention Center, Kansas City, Mo. The cost is $135 per participant.

Engage is the teacher training program from SkillsUSA that empowers teachers to grow their chapters. This two-and-one-half-day professional development training conference is designed to help teachers better understand and use the many leadership development materials and interactive resources available through SkillsUSA.

Dave Burgess, author of Teach Like a Pirate, will present a high-energy, interactive and entertaining experience that will leave attendees inspired, motivated and with the practical skills to dramatically increase student engagement.

Engage will focus on new educational resources being launched by SkillsUSA at its national conference. Participants will unpack the new resources and share best practices on how to implement these tools for the greatest impact in their chapters. Teachers participating in Engage will receive a set of all the new resources as a part of the training. Visit: www.skillsusa-register.org to register for Engage.

The Following Items Apply to Advisors and Students Who Will Be Attending the National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City, Mo., June 23-27, 2014

Alumni Night Out
The national Alumni Coordinating Committee cordially invites college/postsecondary NLSC participants to enjoy a casual night out with alumni members. Join us and see that being an alumni member has fun benefits! Come to PowerPlay Entertainment Center on Thursday, June 26, at 7 p.m. in Shawnee, Kan. This is an 80,000 square foot state-of-the-art fun center with something for everyone. Purchase any dollar amount on your “PowerCard”depending upon your choice of activities. The PowerCard will be sold on site. Transportation will not be provided. The address is PowerPlay South, 13110 W. 62nd Terrace, Shawnee, KS 66216.

50th Conference Commemorative Pin
SkillsUSA’s 50th conference will only happen once, so be sure to get your commemorative pin at the conference this summer. You can purchase this limited edition pin at the alumni association’s booth during SkillsUSA TECHSPO in Bartle Hall of the Kansas City Convention Center, Kansas City, Mo.

The 2014 Major Appliance and Refrigeration Technology Competitor Scholarship
The Professional Service Association, in partnership with SkillsUSA, is proud to offer a scholarship opportunity for SkillsUSA members who have competed and placed first in their state association Major Appliance and Refrigeration Technology competition.

The scholarship is to provide support for SkillsUSA state contest winners who have insufficient personal, chapter, school or community resources to participate at the 2014 National SkillsUSA Championships. Two $500 scholarships will be awarded to help offset the costs of travel and to participate in the National SkillsUSA Championships.

The award is based on a student-written, one-page narrative describing the student’s financial need for the scholarship including the lack of school or community resources. The student may be nominated with a letter of recommendation written by their advisor, or state director. Applications should be sent to the national office of SkillsUSA for review and determination. They must be received (not postmarked) by Monday, June 2, 2014. The national office will notify the winners the following week.

For more information and to apply online, go to this form. 

Advance College Credit at Park University to Contestants In Selected Competitions
Park University is collaborating with SkillsUSA to provide advance college credit at the 50th annual National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC) to contestants for their performance in selected competitions.

Founded in 1875, Park University is a private, non-profit institution fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.  The University offers 59 undergraduate degree and certificate programs, which include nine associate degrees, 46 bachelor degrees, and four certificate programs. Annually, the University serves over 22,000 students at our Parkville, Missouri, flagship campus, online, and at campus centers in 21 states.

To see the list of applicable competitions, the selected courses and apply for advance college credit, visit https://app.park.edu/SkillsUSA/form.aspx. The cost per credit hour is $85. If you have questions, please contact Wakisha.Briggs@park.edu or by phone to 816-584-6859.

Executive Director’s Report: February 15, 2014

February 15th, 2014

Happy CTE Month and SkillsUSA Week!  As we celebrate the outstanding work of CTE educators and programs nationwide this month, it’s great to recognize our SkillsUSA state associations that are growing participation and opportunity for students and teachers through outstanding membership recruitment efforts.  As we all know, CTE and CTSOs change lives for the better, and we are very proud of all the great work that is being done to lift up our students.  Special congratulations to the following state association leaders:

  • Arizona, Carrie Wolf, State Association Director
  • California, Clay Mitchell, State Association Director
  • Connecticut,  Heidi Balch, State Association Director
  • District of Columbia, Ed Roebuck, State Association Director
  • Indiana, Kelley Baker, State Association Director
  • Kansas, Becky Warren, State Association Director
  • Maine, Hal Casey and Rick Thomas, State Association Directors
  • Maryland, Charles Wallace, State Association Director
  • Mississippi, Andy Sims, State Association Director
  • New Hampshire, Kate Krumm, State Association Director
  • Oklahoma, Darren Gibson, State Association Director
  • Pennsylvania, Jeri Widdowson, State Association Director
  • Rhode Island, Josh Klemp, State Association Director
  • Texas, Janet Conner, State Association Director, High School Division

As of today, February 12, we have 275,089 members on the books and that’s approximately 8,000 ahead of the same day last year. We are trending well and are optimistic the push forward will continue through the new year.

Lowe’s Meeting

On January 24, I traveled to Charlotte, N.C. and met with Lowe’s executives, Board Member Troy Dally, Mike Horn, Vice President, Commercial Sales and Tom Donoghue, Community Relations Manager. I shared some of the results of our FY13 Lowe’s Schools in Need Grant Program and an impressive video presentation put together by grant recipient schools, Carol Lowery and Tom Kercheval from staff. The video shows the impact of how Lowe’s grant dollars were spent in those schools and students and teachers thanking Lowe’s for the opportunity. I had some great meetings with Troy regarding both the altruistic connection Lowe’s has to SkillsUSA, as well as how we can enhance our visibility of SkillsUSA graduates who go on to be professionals in the construction industry. It was really great to spend quality time with Tom and review some of the history of our partnership as well as discuss the future. We’re hopeful Lowe’s support will continue for many years to come.

Louisville “Circle of Champions” Breakfast

On January 16th, SkillsUSA, in cooperation with Greater Louisville, Inc. (GLI) and the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau, held a breakfast for members of the local business community at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville. About 200 attended and all of the seats were taken. Students from local CTE schools demonstrated their skills as attendees entered the building, including robotics, culinary arts, cosmetology, automotive, diesel, masonry and others. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer gave a powerful presentation welcoming SkillsUSA to the city and national officer Crystal Sandoval was the master of ceremonies and did a great job. Other presenters included the vice president of GLI, Dr. Dale Winkler from the Kentucky Department of Education, and board member Laurie Hackett from Air Products. All did a great job, and the breakfast was a huge success. The business community showed a lot of great enthusiasm for SkillsUSA’s national conference coming to Louisville. We are confident this event is the beginning of a strong and fruitful relationship with the Louisville, Kentucky community.



Youth Voices with CTSO National Officers

Daria Ferdine, national high school treasurer from New Jersey, has been selected to represent SkillsUSA at the U.S. Department of Education meeting with Secretary Arne Duncan on February 18. Students from each career and technical student organization (CTSO) will share activities with Secretary Duncan. The event will be held in the Secretary’s conference room, and the conversation will focus on how the CTSO’s are helping to advance some of the Department of Education’s key priorities (e.g., college and career readiness, STEM, technology, higher education access, great teachers and leaders, etc.). The students will also have an opportunity to share recommendations with the Secretary about how to improve CTE and the education system, in general. We are confident that Daria will do a great job representing SkillsUSA.

Partnership with Million Women Mentors (MWM)

SkillsUSA has formed a strategic partnership with Million Women Mentors, an initiative of STEMconnector, the national organization that works closely with corporations and thousands of entities to assist in STEM best practices and smart STEM investments.

This is an engagement campaign and national call to action that mobilizes corporations, government entities, nonprofit and higher education groups, around the imperative of mentoring girls and young women in STEM fields. MWM will support the engagement of one million science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) mentors (male and female) to increase the interest and confidence of girls and young women to persist and succeed in STEM programs and careers.

Women comprise nearly half of the U.S. workforce, yet just 24 percent of the STEM workforce. However, the good news is that women in STEM careers earn 92 cents for every dollar male STEM counterparts earn versus 75 cents in other fields. What’s more, 80 percent of the fastest growing occupations in the United States depend on mastery of mathematics and scientific knowledge and skills. 

SkillsUSA invites its business and industry partners and its member educators to sign on as a mentor of a girl or young woman aspiring to a future in the skilled/technical workforce. Any SkillsUSA instructor mentoring a female student(s) qualifies as a mentor. Virtually all SkillsUSA occupational programs possess important elements of STEM. In fact, 68 of our national competitions are directly related to STEM. You can sign up as an individual or you can sign up as a company or as an educational institution and enumerate your colleagues who are serving or will serve as mentors. Simply go to MWM’s website, and click on the “Pledge to Mentor” button on the lower right. 

SkillsUSA believes the Million Women Mentors initiative can be an important national asset in helping to close the “skills gap” that has become a focus of concern for nearly all of our partners.

Highlights

  • Work continues on the www.SkillsUSA.org redesign. We’ve seen initial designs for the new look of our home page and have made revisions to the design concept. The next design compositions will include the revised home page as well as three interior pages. Programming and coding for the new site begins on February 24.
  • Niki Clausen just returned from running a successful “Enhance Your Chapter” training in Sarasota where 36 educators participated.
  • Kelly Horton and Gayle Silvey ran a very successful state director webinar on January 27 to show them the enhancements to the membership system. Twenty-eight state association directors participated and follow-up comments have been very positive.
  • Heidi Walsh just returned from traveling to the American Association of Community College’s Workforce Development Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida with national officer, Dustin Cagle. It was a good visit, and she reports they received a lot of interest in SkillsUSA’s programs.
  • Patty Duncan and Lana Ford have been running a series of webinars to inform our customers about the Work Force Ready System, and they have been well attended.
  • And, last week Kelly Persons joined a morning News Talk Radio program serving listeners from Indiana and Kentucky who live and work in and around the greater Louisville metro area. She did a great job educating the listeners about SkillsUSA and the NLSC. I’ll send you a link to the archived broadcast when it becomes available.

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

ACTIVE ADVISOR NEWS: February 2014

February 1st, 2014

Update from Tim Lawrence

FY 15-16 Strategic Planning
Every year in January, SkillsUSA staff spends a week in strategic planning for the next fiscal year. Staff worked diligently developing the goals, objectives and tactics for the FY 15-16 strategic plan. During this process, we always take a look back as we move forward. Fiscal Year 2013 ended August 31 and there were so many superlatives that we can all be proud of.  Thank you all for making it such an amazing year for SkillsUSA. Here is a short video clip showing a few special moments from 2013:

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/.

The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and state CTE directors also announced good news regarding federal funding for CTE. An omnibus bill was released recently 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.

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, the week of January 19-23, more than 50 students and advisors from SkillsUSA 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).

Thank you for all you do for the great students we serve.

Work Force Ready System/Skill Connect Assessments
Available assessments
SkillsUSA assessments offers 42 technical and employability assessments in 10 cluster areas including four co-branded assessments with ASE/AYES and five co-branded assessments with PrintED/GAERF.  For a complete list of assessments and the blueprints that describe the standards, competencies, and academic skills tied to each assessment, go to: www.workforcereadysystem.org/technical_areas.shtml.

Resources to prepare students for testing
SkillsUSA offers free resources to prepare students for testing. See what’s available at: www.workforcereadysystem.org/resources.shtml. New Teacher Preparation Guides are an excellent resource and can be found at: www.workforcereadysystem.org/guides.shtml. Currently, we have 21 guides available for various assessments. We plan to have the final 12 available in the near future!

If you have used one of our guides, please take a short survey to help us determine content for future guides and periodical updates. Provide feedback at: www.surveymonkey.com/s/TeacherPrepGuides.

To order Skill Connect Assessments, go to http://www.workforcereadysystem.org.Log-on to the test platform with your username from last year or click “Don’t have an Account” to create one. Click “Course Catalog”, type the assessment area in the search box and click on the assessment name. Select your quantity and click “add to cart”. Follow the prompts to complete your order.

Enroll students and grade books
Detailed instructions on how to enroll students, distribute voucher tests and how to access the grade report can be found at: www.workforcereadysystem.org/testing.shtml.  Also see our training webinar “”Assessment Ordering and Management Tools” to learn how to access the full line of reports available.

Training Webinars Available
Training webinars on our assessments were held in January and another one is scheduled for March. View the archived webinars for topics; “Teacher Tips for Student Success” and “Meeting Industry Demands” or join us in March for the live webinar “Assessment Ordering and Management Tools”. For a complete schedule and to view the archived webinars go to: www.workforcereadysystem.org/webinars.shtml.

Assessment Support
Please note our new phone number, email address and hours of operation.

Direct: 1-866-444-7779
Email: support@skillconnect.org
Help Desk Support Hours: Mon.- Fri. 8 a.m.-6 p.m. EST

CTE Month and SkillsUSA Week Events and Activities
February is Career and Technical Education Month and February 9-15 is SkillsUSA Week. SkillsUSA Week activities are a great way to highlight the good work your state association and local chapters are doing. For SkillsUSA Week ideas, see the chapter management section on the SkillsUSA website. SkillsUSA offers downloadable public service announcements at: www.skillsusa.org/educators/skillsusaweek.shtml.

SkillsUSA is also launching a video competition during SkillsUSA Week for members to showcase their skills. Here is their opportunity to tell the story that CTE programs are preparing students for the 21st Century. Entries should be between 2-3 minutes in length and uploaded to YouTube by May 1, 2014. For details, go to: www.skillsusa.org/educators/skillsusaweekvid.shtml. If you have questions, email Stephanie Bland at sbland@skillsusa.org.

2014 Lowe’s Grant Winners
The focus for this year’s Lowe’s grant program was to identify schools, classrooms or students who have a basic need to improve the quality of the students’ educational experience. The grant winners have been selected. There were 21 winners and a total of $352,643 grant dollars given. Congratulations go to the following schools:

Arkansas – Dumas New Tech High School; Arizona – Kofa High School; California – Hanford West High School and Weber Technical Institute; Colorado – Woodland Park High School; Florida – Lake Technical Center and Washington-Holmes Technical Center; Georgia – Lanier Charter Career Academy; Illinois – Waubonsie Valley High School; Indiana – Area 31 Career Center; Kentucky – Kentucky Tech-Floyd County Area Technology Center and Millard Area Technology Center; Maine – Tri-County Technical Center; Mississippi – Prentiss County Vocational Technical School; Montana – Dodson Public School; Nebraska – Bryan Senior High; Ohio – Collins Career Center; Oregon – Logos Public Charter School; Pennsylvania – Eastern Westmoreland Career and Technology Center (EWCTC) and Lawrence County Career and Technology Center; and, West Virginia – Mercer County Technical Education Center.

Competition Central
The SkillsUSA Store is here to help your students look their best this conference season. Visit our “Competition Central” section at: www.skillsusastore.org/skillsusa/welcome.asp today to find the full line of SkillsUSA work uniforms, official blazers and wind jackets, along with everything else they need to succeed. And, please reference the official competition uniform chart for photos and descriptions of the uniform components needed for each competition.

Collision Repair Education Foundation Scholarship and Grant Opportunities
High school and college/postsecondary collision repair technology and automotive refinishing students attending career and technical schools and colleges have the opportunity to apply for the over $200,000 in available scholarships and tool grants available through the Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF) and the organization’s industry supporters.  For more information about the scholarship and grants available, go to www.CollisionEducationFoundation.org.

ACTE National Policy Seminar: March 3-5, 2014
Registration is open for the 2014 ACTE National Policy Seminar (NPS). This year, NPS will feature the latest information from Capitol Hill staff and Members of Congress on the reauthorization of Perkins, as well as ongoing reauthorizations of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Higher Education Act and Workforce Investment Act. For more information, go to: www.acteonline.org.

2014 SkillsUSA University
We are currently accepting proposals from high-quality presenters of innovative, timely and dynamic educational topics to present at the 2014 SkillsUSA University. This year SkillsUSA University is sponsored by 3M. All sessions will take place at the Downtown Marriott Hotel or the Kansas City Convention Center on June 25, 26 and 27.

We ask instructors who would like to present to send emails with proposed topics to Niki Clausen at nclausen@skillsusa.org.

Possible topics: local chapter activities; fundraising; community service; SkillsUSA Program of Work success stories; business etiquette; communication skills for students; local industry partnerships, etc. These can be best practices (with a local advisor presenting) or an expert in the subject area. If you do not want to present, but you have suggestions for workshop topics, please feel free to forward them to us.

The deadline for proposals is February 28. For more information and a Request for Proposal (RFP), go to: www.skillsusa.org/events/skillsuniv.shtml.

National Youth Safety Video Contest Reminder
CareerSafe, Safety Education for America’s Future, is sponsoring the 2013-2014 National Youth Safety Video Contest. Students across the country are challenged to create a two-minute video demonstrating safety in the workplace. The contest kicked off on October 15, and all submissions should be sent into CareerSafe by March 1, 2014. The winning students will receive a SkillsUSA Prize Pack as well as a scholarship up to $2,500, and the winning school will receive a prize up to $5,000. For more information on the contest, please visit the CareerSafe website at: www.careersafeonline.com.

Work Force Ready System/Skill Connect Assessments

September 27th, 2013

SkillsUSA is pleased to announce a partnership with K2Share as our new platform provider for the Work Force Ready System Skill Connect Assessments. K2Share is the same company that administers the CareerSafe program and the assessment for the 10-hour OSHA safety credential. We are excited about our new platform and the new features that will be offered to our customers as a result of this change.

Pricing remains the same at $20 per assessment or $10 per assessment for the number of SkillsUSA members in the previous school year. For details visit our website at this link.

We have a new phone number, email address and extended hours of operation for customer support!

Direct: 1-866-444-7779
Email: support@skillconnect.org
Help Desk Support Hours: Mon- Fri 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Eastern

For additional information, please visit our website at: www.workforcereadysystem.org.

 

Highlights

June 1st, 2013
  • On May 2, I attended the Research Partner Executive Dinner and Reception hosted by the National Research Center for College and University Admissions. The NRCCUA — which is a college and career planning program and runs “myCollegeOptions” — billed it as a networking event and it certainly was. There were 30 top executives from several different organizations. As a result of our visits, I’ve invited executives from Junior ROTC and STEM Connector to attend the national conference.
  • In another outreach from the college community, Wanda Monthey, Governor Roy Romer, Karen Lanning, director of Federal Relations and two other members of the College Board Career Readiness staff came to visit SkillsUSA headquarters to learn more about our organization. The College Board (known for the SAT exam) has put together a team to see what the role of the College Board can be in working with CTE. The team will be working on policy, partnerships, guidance, assessments and curriculum. They said the CB will be “putting the student in the center of what we do and finding pathways for all students to their careers.” They showed a great deal of interest in SkillsUSA. In a follow-up email, Jean-Claude Brizard wrote: “My biggest takeaway from yesterday is your success in getting the grassroots mobilized (teachers and students). Your national convention is fantastic. We have to find a way to engage you in our work.” More to come, I’m sure.
  • Thanks to an introduction from Board Member Russ Hoffbauer, on May 2 I met in Washington with Clark Plucinski, executive director of the Collision Repair Education Foundation. In the interest of gaining “higher quality trainees and employees” in the collision repair industry, the Foundation grants as many as 200 scholarships averaging $1,000 – $2,500 annually for students’ continuing education. The foundation also awards mini-grants and many other things to support collision repair instruction. Clark said he’s open to the option of adding travel scholarships for SkillsUSA students and perhaps adding SkillsUSA membership as a criterion for receiving a scholarship.
  • Worldwide, SkillsUSA is featured as one of 14 model public-private partnerships “that have enabled innovation and technology advancement and promoted talent development” in a recently released global report from the World Economic Forum prepared by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited entitled “Manufacturing for Growth.” Deloitte has been acquainted with SkillsUSA for quite some time — due in part to our partnership with the Manufacturing Institute — but it was still quite an honor to be selected and highlighted on an international scale. Here is a link to the news release about the report (and citing SkillsUSA). To view or download the three-volume report, go to this link. SkillsUSA is featured on page 25 of the second volume.
  • And, more coverage. SkillsUSA was included in an independent supplement from Media Planet to USA Today entitled “Employing America” and featuring Mike Rowe. An article entitled “Who will take over for the retiring baby boomers?” is about SkillsUSA in part and includes quotes from Joe Pietrantonio of Air Products, Nick Pinchuk of Snap-on and Don Whyte of the National Center for Construction Education and Research. The insert was in Midwest editions of USA Today. Here’s a link to the story (and no, we didn’t supply the photo). Another story being picked up by many places is on students who built a robotic locker for a classmate with Muscular Dystrophy. Here it is on the Huffington Post.
  • In other news, staff travelled to California for a meeting with ALCOA to create a program for ALCOA employees to promote manufacturing careers to students. Dave Worden spoke to a committee of the IEC (Independent Electrical Contractors) about the WorldSkills Competition and the WorldTeam. Staff also conducted an “Enhance Your Chapter” training session here on May 9 for four teachers from Virginia and other staff members met with intelitek to discuss online programs including the Skill Connect Assessments.
  • And, finally, three-person SkillsUSA 2012 Engineering Technology/Design competition team national gold medalists were chosen to visit the White House for President Obama’s Science Fair in April. The students, Grant Feldhege, Neil Molitor and Tyler Tran, from Tech High School in St. Cloud Area School District, Minn. designed, created, and manufactured a new product called Dolly-to-Trolley. It is a device that clamps onto a two wheel dolly and allows a person to move and maneuver trailers easily. The students are working on having their product patented. President Obama celebrated the remarkable achievements of student science fair winners and extraordinary kid innovators from across the nation in the third White House Science Fair.

Work Force Ready System Updates

January 30th, 2013

Work Force Ready System

NEW! Teacher Preparation Guides:
Teacher Preparation Guides are now available to assist teachers in preparing students for the Skill Connect Assessments. The first six were released in January: Carpentry, Cosmetology, Criminal Justice/Crime Scene investigation, Television (Video) Production, Nurse Assisting and Welding. The guide will be included as part of the assessment purchase and will be accessible online in the test system to the instructor.

Additional guides will be available in the next school year.

Coming Soon! PrintED Student Certification
Coming soon for this spring testing, a student who achieves a passing score on any of the SkillsUSA/PrintED Co-branded assessments will be awarded a PrintED/SkillsUSA Student Certification in that subject area, valid for two years. The certification, which does not require work experience, is designed to be the initial step for students seeking to build a career in the graphic communications industry. Additionally, responding to the growing emphasis on accountability in education, this student credential provides a means for graphic communications courses of study to measure and demonstrate their success. The certificate can be printed online immediately after a student achieves a passing cut-score. Student Certifications are available for the following assessments – Advertising Design, Digital File Preparation & Digital File

For information on our assessments, visit our Work Force Ready System website at: www.workforcereadysystem.org, contact us at 703-737-0633, ext. 1 or email us at skillconnect@skillsusa.org.

Work Force Ready System Update

December 22nd, 2012

SkillsUSA offers 47 technical and employability assessments in 11 cluster areas including four co-branded assessments with ASE/AYES and five co-branded assessments with PrintED/GAERF.

NEW! Teacher Preparation Guides:

Teacher Preparation Guides will be available to assist teachers in preparing students for the Skill Connect Assessments. The first six are scheduled to be released in January: Carpentry, Cosmetology, Criminal Justice/Crime Scene investigation, Television (Video) Production, Nurse Assisting and Welding. The guide will be included as part of the assessment purchase and will be accessible online to the instructor who provided the order.

For information on our assessments visit our Work Force Ready System website at: www.workforcereadysystem.org, contact us at 703-737-0633, ext. 1 or email us at skillconnect@skillsusa.org.

Workforce Ready System Updates

November 30th, 2012

SkillsUSA offers 47 technical and employability assessments in 11 cluster areas including four co-branded assessments with ASE/AYES and five co-branded assessments with PrintED/GAERF. Fall orders are up 173 percent compared to last year’s usage during the same time period. More users are taking advantage of pre and post testing for program improvement.

System Enhancements:

Recent updates to the ordering website will make adding to existing orders easier and will allow users to review previous orders online.

Training Webinars

The training webinars for instructors and administrators offered in November were well received. To view the archived presentations, go to: www.workforcereadysystem.org/webinars.shtml.

For information on our assessments visit the Work Force Ready System website: www.workforcereadysystem.org or contact Patty Duncan at 703-737-0633, Ext. 1, email skillconnect@skillsusa.org.

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.

Work Force Ready System Update

November 15th, 2012

SkillsUSA offers 47 technical and employability assessments in 11 cluster areas including four co-branded assessments with ASE/AYES and five co-branded assessments with PrintED/GAERF.

System updates were released in September with new features to enhance the grade reports, certificate printing and username password reset functionality. See examples of the enhanced grade and username password reports at: www.workforcereadysystem.org/media/ReportExample2012.pdf.

Free training webinars are now scheduled for the month of November. To see the scheduled dates and times, go to: www.workforcereadysystem.org/webinars.shtml.

For information on our assessments, visit our Work Force Ready System website: www.workforcereadysystem.org or contact Patty Duncan at 703-737-0633, Ext. 1, email skillconnect@skillsusa.org.


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