- 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: www.skillsusa.org/compete/worldteamres.shtml.
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.
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.
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!
- 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.
- 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: www.parade.com/what-people-earn/americas-skilled-workers/featured/110904-at-last-good-news-on-jobs.html. 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.
I always worry a little bit when talking about future news coverage because I know how quickly news can change. Nevertheless, it appears SkillsUSA WorldTeam will be getting coverage in the Labor Day Weekend edition of Parade Magazine. We’re being told there will also be more extensive coverage in September in Parade Magazine Online. Parade is the largest circulation magazine in the country with 70 million readers of the print edition and 40 million online. This will be a nice splash for the delegations going to Capitol Hill in September and for the WorldTeam before they’re off to London on September 30.
Or, as the post-conference correspondence has been saying: “Wow!” Students from every state in the nation, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands were together for what many of them told me was “a life-changing experience.” The weekend before conference we had 260 student officers from 36 states attending State Officer and Advisor 101/201 for leadership training. That was a big increase over last year and our largest ever. We had 15 fine new national officers elected from a field of 40 candidates. The SkillsUSA WorldTeam – which will compete in London this coming October and is the largest team in 23 years – appeared on stage for the first time together on Friday night. We had nearly 5,700 contestants on the edge of their seats during the Awards Ceremony hoping to be medalists and Skill Point Certificate recipients. There was a “wow” every day of the week, whether it was the fireworks on stage or – even more – the visible excitement of the students and instructors.
Here are just a few more figures and highlights:
- This was SkillsUSA’s largest conference with a total registration of more than 9,600 and a total participation of nearly 15,000.
- All contestant scores are available online and privacy is protected by contestant number and birth date.
- Champions Night on Tuesday, sponsored by Carhartt and Pepsi in the Power and Light District set a new record for participation numbers.
- The 100% Advisor Reception sponsored by IRWIN, also on Tuesday, had a record 375 teachers attending. Seven sponsors provided 15 mega prizes, and they were collectively valued at just under $30,000.
- SkillsUSA Night at the Kansas City Royals game, on Thursday, was a great success. It was a thrill to see nearly 10,000 students, teachers and supporters in the stands (and SkillsUSA board President Russ Hoffbauer threw a pretty good first pitch, too).
The Opening Ceremony was sponsored by Bosch and Georgia-Pacific and featured SkillsUSA CEO Champion of the Year, John McGlade of Air Products. I have to admit, there was a moment in John’s speech when he seemed to bask in the glow of the reception he was receiving from the audience. He felt the appreciation of nearly 13,000 students and teachers for the work he and Air Products are doing on their behalf. What they didn’t know was that John had taken his advocacy up a notch by writing of Air Products’ support for SkillsUSA to President Obama, the Secretary of Labor, and two offices in the White House.
Speaking of advocacy, this year’s Wednesday morning Call to Action for instructors and administrators was attended by over 800 people, and it appears over 200 signed up to be added to our Active Advisor list. Steve DeWitt of the Association for Career and Technical Education spoke on the budget in Washington. Our newest board member, Mark Williams representing the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education consortium, spoke on the importance of advocacy and on the new brand for CTE. Dave Camden represented Toyota, which sponsored the Call to Action, and as a member of the Youth Development Foundation, Dave spoke of how important industry support is for SkillsUSA and CTE. Thanks to their support, this was truly a call to action at a time when SkillsUSA and CTE really need it.
The SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference has often been called “the showcase of career and technical education.” That’s what it was again this year. The final VIP list included 365 names. Even better, during the YDF Awards Luncheon, when asked for a show of hands of people attending the conference for the first time, at least 40 percent of the attendees responded. There were also significant delegations of executives at conference from Air Products, Harley-Davidson, Autodesk, John Deere, Lowe’s, State Farm and mikeroweWORKS Foundation. The entire board of the National Center for Construction Education and Research attended as well. Representatives from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Education Association attended and were well cared for by our VIP Host Committee and partners. Kansas City Mayor, Sly James, spoke at the VIP Breakfast on Thursday morning and Sharon Hoge, assistant commissioner of the Office of College and Career Readiness, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education spoke during the VIP reception on Wednesday evening.
More than 500 students and teachers participated in the Timberland PRO community service projects planting trees and helping at the Kansas City food bank. The Community Blood Center registered 45 volunteers and collected 32 units of blood. There were 42 first-time donors. This was the most successful blood drive at conference.
Media coverage was up again this year. At the most recent count, there were 70 stories about SkillsUSA in the Kansas City news media including appearances on all four network affiliates and the front page of the Kansas City Star on Thursday and Saturday. News releases on all of the medalists, Skill Point recipients and honorees have gone to the media and I’ll report on those later.
The Opening Ceremony and the Awards Ceremony were both carried on streaming video thanks to the underwriting of Lowe’s. The Opening Ceremony had 2,548 unique viewers (a single computer with a unique IP address) while the ceremony was live. Since then 2,891 viewers have watched it in the archived version. For the Awards Ceremony, there were 6,495 viewers live streaming 7,907 hours of content. Since then, 3,496 viewers have looked at the archived footage for part one of the ceremony and 1,796 have watched part two. You can watch here.
Consistent with the strategic plan, SkillsUSA is conducting customer-satisfaction surveys including surveys about conference. We begun with the state association directors and have added more participants. Give your feedback here.
The new student center at conference also gathered responses from 722 students on 10 questions including: “How would you most like to be communicated with?” and “How often do you go to the website and what information are you seeking?”
The Association of Woodworking & Furnishings Suppliers (AWFS) will host the WorldSkills Cabinetmaking Qualifying Trial to determine which of the 2010 and 2011 SkillsUSA top-scoring, age-eligible cabinetmaking competitors will compete in WorldSkills Leipzig (Germany) 2013. The event will take place during three days of the AWFS®Fair, Las Vegas Convention Center, beginning Wednesday, July 20 and ending Friday, July 22. Show attendees can watch the students in action, building a project to showcase cabinet construction and woodworking skills including veneering and joinery. The winner will be announced at the WorldSkills booth on Saturday, July 23. The AWFS®Fair Campus in Central Hall will showcase new education features—SkillsUSA, SmartSHOP and Woodwork Career Alliance and will draw crowds and promote industry training.
The two students vying for the chance to represent the U.S. at WorldSkills 2013 are Daniel Berrios, from Bethlehem Vo-Tech School in Bethlehem, Pa., high school, gold-medal winner from the 2010 SkillsUSA Championships and Kaydee Walters, from Tooele High School in Tooele, Utah, high school, gold-medal winner from the 2011 competition.
SkillsUSA has three super finalists for the Welding contestant spot on the SkillsUSA WorldTeam. In my estimation, any one of these students would be a great representative for the United States. On May 22-24, I attended an American Welding Society (AWS) Pre Weld-Off event in Mobile, Alabama. AWS is the primary sponsor of the SkillsUSA WorldTeam selection process, and the 2011 quadruple elimination process has been going on for several months now. The field has narrowed to: Alex Pazkowsk and Brad Clink from Michigan and Zack Brown from Mississippi.
Monday morning started with the introduction of the finalists followed by guest presenters, John Mendoza, AWS president and Lee Hammett and Mr. Hopper of Alabama Industrial Development Training – Maritime Training Center in Mobile. Mendoza presented on the image of welding and the opportunities for individuals to obtain a career in welding with the help of AWS and the scholarships that are awarded each year. Mr. Hopper presented on behalf of the AIDT program at the training center and talked about the facilities, training and career options the facility provides for the Gulf Coast region. Of course, I got in a few words too about SkillsUSA and how we help young men and women prepare for the workforce.
Following the opening event, there was an excellent professional development seminar conducted by David Hernandez that covered topics including professional development, stress management and public speaking. The seminar was designed specifically for the three finalists to help them mentally prepare for world-level competition. David will attend the national conference so he can do the same thing for all the members of the WorldTeam. Several advisors, industry partners and SkillsUSA students from the Gulf Region also participated in all the professional development training on Monday.
From Tuesday through Thursday, the three finalists worked in competition mode and were required to perform an assortment of weldments similar to those they’ll face in London during the 41st WorldSkills Competition. On Friday, all projects were turned in, inspected, and critiqued by three former world competitors and SkillsUSA alumni: Branden Muehlbrandt, Lincoln Electric, Nick Peterson, Miller Electric and Ray Connely, USA Welding Expert. The final AWS Weld-Off to select the WorldTeam Welding contestant will be held during national conference in Kansas City.