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Highlights

November 1st, 2012
  • On October 1-3, our Education, Training and Assessments department staff were engaged in intense training with Quantum Learning’s nationally respected trainer Mark Reardon. Our training staff learned the latest training and motivational techniques; and will be incorporating these into our training seminars and workshops for students and advisors. The training included focus on effective meetings, new teacher training and the most current training trends and techniques. Staff tells me they were excited about the training and even more excited about implementing what they learned with our stakeholders.
  • As a follow up to the Champion of the Year Dinner and great connections from YDF member Dave Camden of Toyota, we are working with Interstate Batteries to introduce a national fundraising campaign for our local chapters. In our discussions with local advisors and student leaders, fundraising is a critical component of local involvement in SkillsUSA. Chapters will have the opportunity to sell Interstate alkaline batteries and keep approximately 50 percent of all sales.
  • I’m also pleased to announce that earlier last month, Interstate Batteries announced a partnership with SkillsUSA. Starting this year, participating SkillsUSA student chapters will be able to sell a wide variety of Interstate Batteries products from AAA, AA, C, D and 9V batteries to flashlights and organizers with testers. And, for each Interstate Batteries product sold, SkillsUSA student chapters will receive 50 percent of the sale price.
  • Finally, staff reports that we are almost ready to travel to Brazil with 11 of our finest students to compete in WorldSkills Americas in November. Our final count of participants is complete, and we are in the last days of planning for the event.

Highlights

October 15th, 2012
  • The national office has been converting its email system to Microsoft Outlook the past few weeks with a new IT supplier. As anyone who has ever been through a similar undertaking knows, where there’s lots of data migration not all data migrates to where it’s supposed to be.
  • Staff reports that our 12 contestants going to WorldSkills Americas in November have their plane tickets. There’s just that little matter of making sure everyone has visas.

Highlights

September 30th, 2012
  • On September 11, Don Hermanek and Rita Figi of IAA (Insurance Auto Auctions) came by the national office to discuss the launch of a partnership to reach out to support SkillsUSA state associations and chapters and to offer training and employment opportunities to SkillsUSA students from many training program areas. They expressed particular interest in students competing in the leadership contests. They started the meeting with the presentation of a $25,000 check. We are to get back together in early October to further develop our strategy.
  • Along similar lines, staff and I met on September 13 with NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research). They’re predicting an uptick in construction hiring and so they’re looking for ways to hire our construction graduates.
  • Thanks to Bill Maddox and Wanzel Jessie of YDF member N.E.W., we were able to take the Mega Prize winner John Lee and his wife, Samantha, to the owner’s box at a Washington Nationals baseball game September 7th and then I took them on a Segue tour of the Washington monuments on the 8th. Both John and Samantha are big baseball fans so they were just over the moon about the prize. John teaches diesel equipment technology at Tennessee Technology Center in Elizabethton. He’s also a state certified trainer, he’s had national contestants, has a national officer this year and he was a Virginia state officer many years ago.
  • And, finally, the WorldTeam had its first webinar on August 3. Most of the contestants, experts, management team and a few state association directors participated. It was an orientation for the team and to check on how we’re doing on communications and training. We met with state association directors Karen Ward and Mike Cowles on September 10 to discuss several topics including state director certification, new training structures and registration procedures and the hotel lottery at national conference among others. The staff values their input. Past national officer, national staff member and all-around good friend to SkillsUSA, Bill Prince and his wife Patty came by to visit with the national staff on September 12. Bill addressed the staff meeting on the early history of SkillsUSA and exciting moments he recalled such as the appearance of President Reagan at our national conference.

Highlights

September 15th, 2012
  • A big thank you to our state association directors who attended the Professional Development and Training Conference in Rapid City, S.D. Here are just a few more highlights from the conference. Tiffany Sanderson, team leader, Perkins Career and Technical Education in South Dakota – equivalent to the state CTE director – was a featured speaker during the opening dinner. The states held regional meetings before the business meeting and all ran very well. Mark Williams, SkillsUSA’s chief IT consultant, did an outstanding job of demonstrating the conference management system. At least half of the directors attending participated, and Mark did a separate training for new state directors. The Mount Rushmore nighttime lighting ceremony was wonderfully patriotic. Jen Polz, state association director from Minnesota is the new executive committee chair-elect and all of the executive committee did a phenomenal job of running the conference.
  • On August 23, I flew to Chicago to meet with the CEO and executive staff of IAA (Insurance Auto Auctions) and the CEO and president of ADESA (a leading provider of vehicle remarketing services). Board member, Russ Hoffbauer, made the introduction by inviting the president and vice president of IAA to the conference last June. Needless to say, they were impressed by what they saw. During our meeting, Kaila O’Farrell, national high school vice president, talked about the value of SkillsUSA to students and then Russ Hoffbauer talked about why State Farm is involved in SkillsUSA. I’d say they were both persuasive because both organizations signed up to be SkillsUSA official sponsors effective this year. Executives from each organization met with us in Leesburg on September 11. Thanks go to Russ Hoffbauer for his support.
  • We have 311 people registered to attend the Washington Leadership Training Institute (WLTI) and it starts tomorrow. They’ll be representing 27 states and Puerto Rico and 31 state associations. I believe this is the largest WLTI in history. All of the national officers will be attending.
  • Preparations for the Champion of the Year dinner are reaching a feverish pace. An announcement news release went out on September 6, and Snap-on has really stepped up efforts to get coverage during a news conference scheduled at the National Press Club. Staff is following up on the invitations to the administration and Congress. We’ve had good sponsorship responses from the Youth Development Foundation and members of the board, and we’re looking forward to having 100 students and teachers from WLTI join us for the dinner.
  • We’re getting ready to send 13 students and 12 technical delegates from the 2013 SkillsUSA WorldTeam to Brazil for the WorldSkills Americas in mid-November 2012. We sent two contestants to the 2010 WorldSkills Americas competition and found it was a great way to prepare the contestants for international competition and – even more important – to help prepare the technical experts. Thank you to the state associations who are stepping up to support these contestants in their quest for excellence on the world level.

That’s it for now. Until next time, thank you for all you do for the great students and teachers we serve.

 

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.

WorldSkills Competition General Assembly

May 17th, 2012

My first day in Jeju, Korea began with a welcome dinner for official and technical delegates at the “Spirited Gardens” on Jeju Island. A beautiful setting in a bonsai garden hosted the dinner that included welcome addresses from Korean officials, and the President and CEO of World Skills International. (a couple of photos attached). A great time to network with delegates from the 39 countries attending and with World Skills board and foundation members as well as Global Industry Partners (GIP)of World Skills. Scott and I have had very good conversations with three of our own partners who also are GIPs of World Skills: Carl Peters of Lincoln Electric, David Greene of Fluke and Bob Schoener (sp) of Cisco.

WorldSkills Photo

Tim Lawrence, USA Official Delegate to WorldSkills International, Simon Bartley, President of WorldSkills International from the UK and Scott Norman, USA Technical Delegate, Pittsburg State University.

On Day Two, we attended the World Leaders Forum and participated in three discussions: (1) Skills for sustainable growth – the role of skills competitions, (2) Keeping competitors engaged beyond the competition, and (3) The world’s top skills performers – how do they do it? The third and final discussion was extremely interesting as we heard from Switzerland and Korea, the two best performing countries in World Skills Competitions over the past decade. The governmental support, training and rewards systems in these countries are all very impressive and great examples of national commitment for world competitors. Our cultural experience for the afternoon involved attending a women’s ocean diving competition and we saw the divers bring up shellfish, blowfish and octupus. We experienced Korean folk dancing performances and an ocean kayak race where our own Bob Schoener placed second overall in the race in the harbor off JeJu Island.

Day Three was the first day of General Assembly meetings. Thirty nine member countries answered roll call and we reviewed the World Skills Action Plan that is being implemented to rise to the goals of World Skills Vision 2020. We heard campaign speeches and elected a new vice-president of the Strategy Committee and heard updates on the state of World Skills International from both President Simon Bartley and CEO David Hoey. We approved SanPalo Brazil as the site for the 2015 World Skills Competition and heard a proposal from the official delegate from the United Arab Emerates for hosting the event in 2017. We also heard presentations and voted to approve the membership of three new countries to join World Skills International. Russia, Sri Lanka and Trinidad and Tobago were all three approved as new members, bringing the total number of countries involved to 61. We broke into working groups for the entire afternoon to generate ideas on how World Skills should go about implementation of the Action Plan.

We have two more days of General Assembly meetings and lots more business to address, including introduction of new competitions and a revisit of Vision 2020 to secure member ideas in the process. More to follow as we close out the assembly on Saturday night.

Here are a few photos from our time here:

WorldSkills Photo

WorldSkills Photo

WorldSkills Photo

WorldSkills Photo

Highlights

May 1st, 2012

On April 2, SkillsUSA briefed staff of a U.S. Senate Commerce Committee subcommittee preparing for hearings to discuss ways to address the skills gap. Staff was particularly interested in things done by and with our partners, such as the CAT ThinkBig program. The staff also appreciated our helping them to secure potential witnesses from among our sponsors. One of the witnesses on April 17 was from the American Welding Society.

More in the “it’s nice to be asked”category. Staff and I had a conference call with the Boston Consulting Group on Monday. The Group is working with Harvard Business School on the topic of U.S. competitiveness. The goal of the project is to identify a set of actions that companies can take to improve competitiveness, and they thought SkillsUSA would be a good source. We were also called for an interview on the increasing popularity of “trade schools” by “Fox Business.” (We can’t correct everything in the news.) Here is the link to the story: www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2012/04/06/going-to-trade-school-should-do-it. And, staff member Eric Gearhart and Bob Skodzinsky of Haas Technical Education Center Network were the primary sources for a tremendous three-page feature article entitled “Student Journey: From SkillsUSA to WorldSkills”printed in the March 2012 edition of Manufacturing Engineering published by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. The article really ties together the need for skilled workers, SkillsUSA, the Championships and the WorldTeam.

During the first week of April, we signed an agreement to coordinate where we can with Rebuilding Together (formerly known as “Christmas in April”), an organization dedicated to renovating homes owned by the poor and elderly. They do 10,000 projects every year. We’ll encourage our members and partners to work with Rebuilding Together and serve on their local affiliate boards. For their part, they have several major partners and several excellent visibility opportunities every year, including the Super Bowl.

Skill Connect assessment sales are brisk. SkillsUSA University has 75 classes confirmed and eight more pending. We have a record number of President’s Volunteer Service Award winners with 122 individual awards representing 34,251 hours of service and 11 team awards totaling 19,097 service hours.

Highlights

April 15th, 2012
  • SkillsUSA was invited to help prepare hearings for a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee on April 17. The hearing will be about the skills gap and how to address it. Our staff met with committee staff on Monday, April 2, to discuss the overall agenda, suggest additional witnesses from among our partners and what SkillsUSA is doing that can add to the hearings.
  • On the legislative front, staff attended the National Coordinating Council meeting for the student organizations, and according to a report from the U.S. Department of Education, Perkins is not likely to be folded in with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and reauthorization of Perkins is more likely in 2015 than next year. In a related development, we also understand that Perkins funds are protected from being folded into a workforce investment fund as originally proposed. NASCTEc worked for the change and reports that Perkins is the only program that cannot be consolidated into the unified workforce plan. And, on March 30, Representative Jim Langevin, co-chair of the bipartisan CTE Caucus presented the 2012 SkillsUSA Rhode Island Outstanding Advisor of the Year award in Cranston. That‘s great visibility for SkillsUSA.
  • On March 27, we had a webinar for state association directors on the expanded curriculum and changes to the officer training seminars held during conference, formerly called State Officer 101/201 and advisor training, but now called Leverage (state officers), Activate (chapter leaders) and Engage (advisor training). Seventeen directors joined the webinar and six more have asked for a reprise. Reaction was positive. There have also been six webinars on the Skill Connect Assessments focusing on general administration of the tests and on building student success with the assessments. And, staff reports that four states are using the assessments as part of their state competitions.
  • We have 46 applications in for the SkillsUSA WorldTeam. The interview and selection process will begin soon. We also got the good news that Festo will sponsor our 2013 Mechatronics Team.
  • Staff reports that the March 23 Chapter Management Institute held here at the national center was attended by 22 teachers from Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky.
  • And, finally, the succession plan approved by the board last year has been reviewed by a local consultant sent our way by Tim Zilke of ASE. The consultant commended the plan overall and had some suggestions that we’ll implement soon.

CTE Month and Highlights

March 1st, 2012

We just finished CTE Month and we had a lot going on here at SkillsUSA. That includes social media activity during SkillsUSA Week, a new board member, a new staff member and a shout out from the Assistant Secretary of Labor. So, here are some of the highlights during this shortest month of the year.

  • As part of our SkillsUSA Week celebration, February 6-10, we experimented using advertising on Facebook by posting the SkillsUSA public service announcement (PSA) featuring alumna and NASCAR reporter, Wendy Venturini. The ad ran from February 9-12. The campaign reached over 420,000 unique viewers and yielded nearly one million impressions. To view the PSA, go to: www.skillsusa.org/educators/psa.shtml and scroll down to the video window of Wendy. We used the 60-second version.
  • Also during SkillsUSA Week, we heard about lots of activity from around the country as our chapters and state associations were engaged in advocacy and service activities. We were happy to have approximately 100 attendees on our SkillsUSA Week webinar on Tuesday, February 7 and pleased by the special guests, Russ Hoffbauer, both student national presidents and one of our business partners, former board member (and SkillsUSA alumnus), John Hinesley, who gave the keynote speech.
  • I’m pleased to announce that Lowe’s Senior Vice President, Troy Dally, will be joining the board of directors. And, last week, I had my first phone conversation with the new Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation director, and she sounded excited about the partnership with SkillsUSA.
  • Chance Litwin, this year’s SkillsUSA college/postsecondary national student president has been invited to attend the 2012 Building a Grad Nation Summit in Washington, D.C., March 18-21. The annual event brings together community groups, educators, local and state leaders, nonprofit organizations, businesses and youth to discuss efforts to increase high school graduation rates. The Summit is expected to draw 1,000 people including General Colin Powell and U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. Chance was chosen from over 200 student applicants. State Farm is a Premier Sponsor for the Summit.
  • On February 21, Christen Battaglia joined the Office of Business Partnerships and Development to help with our fundraising. We’re very glad to have her with us and know you’ll give her a hearty welcome when you meet her.
  • Here is the latest on SkillsUSA membership. Remember, tomorrow (March 1), is the deadline for not only competitors, but officer candidates and delegates as well. We have 296,490 members entered now and more states have surpassed their total membership last year. Congratulations to the following state associations for exceeding last year’s overall membership. They are California, Clay Mitchell; Connecticut, Heidi Balch; Hawaii, Gilbert Chun; Maryland, Chuck Wallace; Massachusetts, Karen Ward; Mississippi, Andy Sims; New Hampshire, Lynda Demers; New Jersey, Pete Carey; New York high school division, Bruce Potter; Oklahoma, Darren Gibson; Pennsylvania, Jeri Widdowson; Rhode Island, Josh Klemp; Virginia, Ed Sullivan; and, West Virginia, Paul Lovett. And, a reminder that professional membership and alumni memberships count, so if you have staff, board members, corporate members or others (including yourself), be sure and submit them today. Individuals who are industry partners and other friends not affiliated with a local chapter can join online at the following link: www.skills-register.org/rpts/JoinAsProfessional.aspx.
  • SkillsUSA Champions magazine won a silver award this year in the Association Trends All-Media Contest. Among the judge’s comments: “This submitted issue lives up to the mission statement with excellent and focused content and clean and easy-to-read design elements. This organization has a strong Web presence and a digital version to further enhance its commitment to members.” Congratulations to Tom Hall and the Office of Publications. If you would like to see the winners gallery (including honors to past SkillsUSA publications), please visit: www.associationtrends.com/gallery/?cat=261.
  • Mike Cowles was in Washington on February 7 as part of a delegation from Columbus, Ohio to visit the White House to discuss metro economic revitalization and job creation and how the city can work with small and large businesses to do it. This was one of 40 similar meetings planned by the White House. The delegation included the mayor of Columbus. Mike joined them because of the role of career and technical education in economic development and education. He told me that at one point during the meeting he started to talk about SkillsUSA, and Assistant Secretary of Labor Jane Oates said to the entire delegation: “SkillsUSA is a great organization. If you’re not involved with it already, you need to be.”
  •  We’re putting the final touches on a rigorous selection process for SkillsUSA WorldTeam and we’ll be keeping our state association directors informed right up front on the process and the candidates. We’ve also restructured the management team. I will be serving as the official delegate. Scott Norman from Pittsburg, Kan., is our technical expert. Dave Worden is our assistant technical expert and Heidi Ambrose is the team leader.

* The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) held a conference call the other day to ask the career and technical student organizations to help in the promotion and participation in the administration’s National Education Startup Challenge, an entrepreneurial look at education. SkillsUSA is happy to help. While on the subject of OVAE, President Obama’s 2013 budget flat-funds Perkins at $1.13 billion. One of the three key themes in the budget is “Jobs: aligning job training and education programs with workforce demands.”

* Sales of the Skill Connect Assessments are double what they were last year at this time and sales of ASE automotive assessments – in which SkillsUSA shares – are also way ahead of last year. We’ve been very fortunate to have an assessment expert helping us review the Skill Connect system, providing significant advice on how and where we can make improvements to the system and helping to develop a tool to show teachers the weighting of competencies in the tests. That will be a big help to teachers to prepare their students.

* Finally, there were 700 entries in the National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC) pin and T-shirt design contest. That’s pretty neat. And, we held our first NLSC staff meeting on Valentine’s Day.

Highlights

December 1st, 2011
  • Staff recently attended the annual meeting of the CEWD (Center for Energy Workforce Development), a nonprofit consortium formed in 2006 of electric, natural gas and nuclear utilities and their associations. SkillsUSA has engaged in a partnership with the CEWD which was formed to help utilities work together to develop solutions of the coming workforce shortage in the utility industry. It is the first partnership between utilities, their associations, contractors and unions to team with secondary and postsecondary educational institutions and the workforce system to create workable solutions to address the need for a qualified, diverse workforce. CEWD contracted SkillsUSA to create a Skill Connect Assessment in Energy Industry Employability Skills, and it is now available. SkillsUSA’s Career Skills Education Program (CSEP) is being used by CEWD as the companion curriculum for that assessment. With help from a Gates Foundation grant, CEWD has launched the Get Into Energy Career Pathway (GIECP) featuring eight pilot sites whose goal is to attract a total of 5,000 low-income students into training and jobs for the energy workforce sector. Additional information about CEWD is at www.cewd.org.
  • Some closing media notes . . . The Champion of the Year releases – both before and after the event – were sent to 1,148 automotive trades, business and education reporters nationwide, both print and online each time, and posted in several places online including Google, Yahoo and AOL. We also produced a report of WorldTeam coverage to share with WorldSkills International and discovered we had at least 118 stories or repostings of press releases on the WorldTeam including WCBS-TV, WAGC-TV, several other TV stations, and several newspapers including the St. Petersburg Times, BodyShop Business as well as several other trade publications and, of course, Parade Magazine.

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