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WorldSkills General Assembly Meeting

June 15th, 2012

On May 13-20, Scott Norman and I were in Jeju, Korea for the WorldSkills General Assembly meeting. Approximately 150 delegates from member nations attended the meeting. I’d say as the new official delegate, and Scott as the new official technical delegate, both Scott and I learned a lot about the operations and vision of the WorldSkills organization. We also made some good industry contacts.

One of the business items was the final report on WorldSkills London 2011. There were 1,000 contestants (people at the meeting couldn’t believe that we’ll have 5,900 contestants at the upcoming Championships) and, 200,000 people attended. Many of the attendees were school children bused in or visited by national teams at their schools. The event cost about $88 million. The British government picked up half of that cost. The U.S. hosted the WorldSkills Competition in 1981. When asked if we’d do it again, I looked at those costs and said: “Not any time soon.” A clear disappointment for the WorldSkills in London was that despite some of the royal family and the prime minister attending, the event didn’t receive coverage from the BBC.

We also heard some interesting presentations from Korea and Switzerland on what it takes to be a winning team at the WSC. Korean contestants are already workers by the time they compete. In fact, Korean contestants train for 10 hours a day for three years prior to the competition. And, there are some incentives. Korean medalists are exempt from compulsory military service, gold medalists are guaranteed lifetime employment at Samsung, and the medalists earn cash rewards and receive a ticker-tape parade upon their return to Korea. Swiss contestants are all in apprenticeships, and they have full government support for their training. All countries – except the United States – have federal support. The focus of every nation except the United States, is entirely on the competition.

Germany presented the logistics, venue and the travel package costs for the Leipzig, Germany 2013 WorldSkills Competition. The theme will be “Discover.” Sri Lanka, Russia and Trinidad/Tobago have all joined WorldSkills taking the number of member countries to 61. We also learned that the fee for each participating country will increase by three percent over the previous year.

Due to economic difficulties in Europe, the venue for the 2015 WSC has been moved from Madrid, Spain to Sao Paulo, Brazil. The good news, from a competition standpoint, is that SkillsUSA will be sending select contestants from our WorldTeam to the same venue for Skills Americas this November.

SkillsUSA WorldTeam Report

November 1st, 2011

I am extremely proud of every student on the SkillsUSA WorldTeam. The team represented SkillsUSA and the United States of America very well in London. If you haven’t had a chance to look at the WorldTeam coverage, the link is:

I want to extend a special thank you to Lowe’s as the anchor sponsor for the SkillsUSA WorldTeam and to all of the other businesses and unions that supported our competitors. And, a big thank you goes to board president Russ Hoffbauer from State Farm and secretary and chair of the Youth Development Foundation Committee, Greg Rintala from Snap-on Industrial, for their participation with the WorldTeam. It was great having them in London and participating in the team recognition dinner and several other WorldSkills activities.

I do have a nice addition to the CBS story. Board member, Joe Pietrantonio from Air Products, emailed me on October 13, that the young welder interviewed at the beginning of the segment is not only an Air Products employee, he’s also a SkillsUSA alumnus. If you haven’t had a chance to watch the segment, it’s archived at:;contentBody

WorldTeam in Washington

October 31st, 2011

WorldTeam 2011 at the CapitolOn September 30, we took advantage of the fact that we had our impressive WorldTeam in town and conducted a series of meetings in Washington, D.C. each meeting was an exchange of information and – for SkillsUSA – an opportunity to talk about the importance of career and technical education both as learning that works and an important avenue to developing America’s skilled workforce.

Our first meeting was at 9 a.m. with Aneesh Chopra, U.S. Chief Technology Officer with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House Conference Center. After introductions, Aneesh began his remarks by asking: “Who are the innovators here? All of your hands should go up.” His point was that the American economy is counting on people – particularly young people – from all backgrounds and all occupations to discover new and cost-effective ways to provide new products and services.

Several congressional offices were represented at a meeting hosted by the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus held at the Cannon House Office Building at 10 a.m. Here the discussion was largely about the team and the preparations team members had undergone (several mentioned the need to compete using metric measurement, different processes and different materials) and more detail about the WorldSkills Competition itself.

Following lunch at the Rayburn cafeteria, the team met at 1 p.m. with Sharon Miller, director, Division of Academic and Technical Education, U.S. Department of Education and additional staff. The lively conversation was again about the team and their contests and differences between how other nations prepare their teams – often training them for years – as opposed to how the U.S. team is prepared.

The last formal meeting of the day was at the Hart Senate Office Building from 2-2:45 p.m. with Thomas Showalter, research assistant for Senator Harkin (D-IA), chair of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Showalter was clearly impressed by the team members, what they have learned through CTE and where it has taken them in further education and in their careers. He told the students that aspects of CTE are being added to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and he wrote subsequently: “It’s meetings like this one with the team that remind me what our jobs on the Hill are supposed to be about.” SkillsUSA followed up with all of the people visited and updated the congressional offices on the team’s progress.


October 31st, 2011
  • With all of our activity during the past month or so, including the Washington Leadership Training Institute and WorldTeam, over 30 days we had an 87 percent increase of “likes” on the SkillsUSA Facebook page. What’s more, our active users are up 111 percent, the number of people looking at posts is up 383 percent and feedback is up 453 percent. Every time we posted new photos or videos, the site would get 4,500 impressions. During the first week of October, 67,246 people viewed posts on our news feed. A good comparison here is to the first week of September when we had only 12,680 people viewing the news feed. Good news and activity gets great attention.
  • On September 29, I had a conference call with Larry Teverbaugh, CEO of K2Share. We will be signing a new memorandum of understanding to continue our CareerSafe agreement with K2Share, and Larry is projecting continuing growth of CareerSafe.
  • While in London, I had meetings with three of our industry partners. Russ Hoffbauer, the four national officers attending WorldSkills and I met with FLUKE. Russ did a super job of talking about the business advantages of partnering with SkillsUSA and taking it to a higher level. I’m scheduled to meet with FLUKE in Seattle in early December. The four officers, Karen Ward, SkillsUSA Massachusetts state association director, and I met with Autodesk representatives in hopes Autodesk will become involved in the Youth Development Foundation. And, I met with Lincoln Electric CEO, John Stropki, Jr. Lincoln has been a SkillsUSA partner for over 30 years, and I’m looking forward to meeting with John in early December.
  • The Alumni Coordinating Committee was in Leesburg for their fall meeting October 14-16, and they had good discussions.
  • The SkillsUSA Champion of the Year event is coming ever closer. Here’s a nice development: Toyota has asked its government affairs staff to get letters of congratulations for Jim Lentz from governors all across the country. That’s another way of leveraging this event. We hope many of you will encourage your business partners to participate in the event on November 4. Broadening our partner network will allow for greater awareness of the need for a skilled American workforce and help show that SkillsUSA and CTE are part of the answer. If you would like additional information about this year’s event, don’t hesitate to reach out to me or Chris Powell of our staff.


October 15th, 2011
  • The board of directors met on September 19. The board approved the August financials. It appears we will have a positive change in net assets and SkillsUSA will beat its budget for the ninth time in 10 years. The board also went to the Hill with the students and I heard from many people that the student and board member advocacy combination was very powerful.
  • Caleb Houston, high school division parliamentarian, and I made a presentation about SkillsUSA to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship (ACA) on September 22 near Baltimore. The ACA is interested in finding effective partners and methods to recruit young people into apprenticeship. Our friends, Bob Baird of the Independent Electrical Contractors, Inc, Greg Chambers of Oberg Industries, Inc. and Steve Mandes of the National Institute for Metalworking Skills, all recommended to the committee that involvement with SkillsUSA would be a good approach. I’m certain we’ll be hearing more from ACA.
  • Members of the SkillsUSA WorldTeam arrived in Leesburg on September 29, in preparation for the trip to London Friday evening. Before they left, we had some Washington visits for them. At 9 a.m., we were at The White House Conference Center for a meeting with the Office of Science and Technology Policy. At 10 a.m. we met with staff from the CTE Caucus in the Cannon House Office Building and some of the team members’ Senators and Representatives staff members. At 1 p.m. we met at the U.S. Department of Education Office of Vocational and Adult Education, and then, at 2 p.m. we went over on the Senate side to meet with staff from the Senate HELP Committee.
  • The competition has finished and here are the scores from the 41st WorldSkills Competition in London: Bradley Clink of Washtenaw CC in Saline, Michigan won Silver in Welding. Laina Call of Ogden-Weber Applied Technology College in Ogden, Utah won a Medallion of Excellence (at least 500 points out of a possible 600) in Hairdressing. Daniel Lehmkuhl of Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, California won a Medallion of Excellence in Automobile Technology (Automotive Service Technology). Rachel Koppelman of Columbia Area Career Center in Columbia, Missouri won a Medallion of Excellence in Cooking. WorldTeam information is online at:

Awards Ceremony

October 10th, 2011

The SkillsUSA WorldTeam represented our nation well. I’m extremely proud of each and every one of them. They brought home five international awards:

  • Bradley Clink received a Silver medal for Welding
  • Laina Call received a Medallion for Excellence in Ladies/Men’s Hairdressing
  • Daniel Lehmkuhl received a Medallion for Excellence in Automobile Technology
  • Rachel Koppelman received a Medallion for Excellence in Cooking.

Bradley Clink also joined all countries’ highest scoring students on stage to receive a gold medal for Best of Nation.

The rigor and challenges of WorldSkills 2011 will be a great memory and a building ground for WorldSkills 2013, to be held in Leipzig, Germany.  SkillsUSA is very appreciative of everyone who made the London experience possible for our students.

Special thanks to the many parents who attended to show support, to each of our experts, our staff, team leader Mark Claypool and official delegate Ada Kranenberg. And a big thank you to Mr. Don Hatton, our retiring USA technical delegate who completed 27 years of service to SkillsUSA and WorldSkills as of the close of World Skills London 2011.  I’m very appreciative of the entire team representing the United States of America in London.

WorldSkills Competition Day Three

October 7th, 2011

The SkillsUSA WorldTeam is finishing their third day of competition.  The third day is usually the toughest as it begins the second half of very challenging and rigorous competitions. Our team is amazing and I am so proud of how they have represented SkillsUSA and the United States of America.

There are tough assignments benchmarked to international standards and our students are also encountering some equipment not usually seen in the USA. But each student is taking the challenge head on and performing well. Tomorrow will wrap up the final day and awards will be presented on Sunday evening.

Also today, National Treasurer Emad Madha and National Region I Vice President Elena Melekos made an excellent presentation to world leaders at the Global Skills Marketplace. They shared the SkillsUSA model of student leadership and also presented information on social networking. They were excellent.

If you’re an American, there’s a lot to be proud of in London today! Seeing our students’ technical and leadership skills demonstrated on this world stage reminds me of the importance of what we all do to fulfill the SkillsUSA mission: to help its members become world-class workers, leaders and responsible American citizens.

WorldSkills London

October 4th, 2011

We are excited that we now have a total of 93 members of the USA delegation attending the WorldSkills Competition in London. This is the largest contingent of USA participants in many years.

We will have a SkillsUSA WorldTeam Rally outside the main entrance of the O2 Arena, one hour prior to the opening ceremony. Our four national student officers will be holding a big American flag and we are asking all our USA visitors to gather with the students at the flag. We have purchased small American flags and “thunder sticks” (noise makers) for all USA participants. We will be handing them out at the rally and we will try to all go into the arena together with a little noise and USA fanfare. We expect some big noise when our World Team is introduced on stage during the Parade of Nations!


September 30th, 2011
  • 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.


September 15th, 2011
  • The SkillsUSA WorldTeam received coverage in the Labor Day weekend edition of PARADE magazine. And, there was much more extensive coverage online, including the team members’ biographies. Here is the link: PARADE appears in more than 600 Sunday edition newspapers. PARADE is the largest circulation magazine in the country with 70 million readers of the print edition and 40 million online. More coverage in PARADE online has been promised this month.
  • Board member Joe Pietrantonio stopped by the National Leadership Center on Wednesday, August 31. Joe met informally with all of the staff members who were in the office and then sat down with staff to discuss Air Products’ support for the furtherance of the Champion of the Year Dinner. Additionally, SkillsUSA is fortunate to have the very personal support of John McGlade in helping us build this program.
  • While attending the state association director conference in Louisville, I drafted a letter to President Obama asking him to meet with SkillsUSA WorldTeam when it is in DC on September 30. That letter was sent to The White House scheduling office on September 1. We also sent them a notice with the PARADE magazine article link. If all goes according to plan, the team will begin its day in Washington at the offices of The Manufacturing Institute hosted by YDF member Emily DeRocco, meet with members of the CTE Caucus, visit with the President and visit members of Congress.

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