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.
SkillsUSA has been making use of our online capabilities with a series of webinars for members and leaders. On May 10, Niki Clausen and the Alumni & Friends Association offered another in their Professional Development Webinar series, using the expertise of SkillsUSA alumni. This one was on financial management and was conducted by Bryan Doxford, a past national officer from Utah, and now a credit analyst AVP at New York Business Development Corporation. Alumni webinars are recorded and archived on the SkillsUSA website on the alumni page.
On the evening of May 11, we had the initial briefing webinar for the SkillsUSA WorldTeam to help team members prepare for things such as international travel. Most of the team was online. In a couple of instances, mom or grandmother were sitting in because the team member had to be at work. Mark Claypool, team leader moderated. Joining him online were Don Hatton, technical delegate to WorldSkills International, and Ada Kranenberg, official delegate to WorldSkills International.
And, on May 12, we held a webinar with the officers of the SkillsUSA State Association Directors Executive Committee to finalize the agenda and best practice and training sessions for the association’s August meeting. Also discussed were constitutional amendments and this month’s national conference.
On April 6 – 7, the Youth Development Foundation Committee held its spring meeting in Washington, D.C. hosted by committee member Emily DeRocco, president of the Manufacturing Institute and held in the offices of the National Association of Manufacturers. Thirteen of the committee members attended and the meetings were chaired by Greg Rintala, Snap-on Industrial. New members on the YDF committee this meeting were Tim Humes, Carhartt, Inc., Jim Bohn, Robert Bosch Tool Corporation and Laurie Gostley-Hackett of Air Products.
The business meeting on April 6 focused on activities of the foundation, the SkillsUSA strategic plan for FY12, the CEO Champion of the Year dinner and an update on the SkillsUSA WorldTeam. In addition, there was discussion of progress for the SkillsUSA Alumni & Friends Association, the Work Force Ready System and membership marketing initiatives.
Jay Timmons, the new president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers addressed the group on NAM’s dedication to workforce development for the 21st century and its interests in federal policy affecting regulations, taxes and energy supply. He highlighted the Manufacturing Institute’s recent paper “Roadmap to Education Reform for Manufacturing” and how important a skilled manufacturing workforce is to America’s economic future. SkillsUSA is referenced twice in the report. Here is the link: http://institute.nam.org/view/The_Manufacturing_Institute_Releases_Roadmap_for_E/info
On April 7, 11 of the YDF members did something they’d never done before as a committee: they went to Capitol Hill to talk with policymakers. Their message was clear, the nation faces workforce shortages and skill gaps, and policymakers should pay attention to and build upon what works. By that, they meant SkillsUSA and CTE and they invited Members of Congress to national conference to show them how it works.
Small delegations from the YDF and national staff met with: Brenda Dann-Messier, assistant secretary, Office of Vocational and Adult Education and members of her staff; staff from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee; staff from the Senate Commerce Committee; and then delegations and individuals met with staff from 13 additional congressional offices with Representatives and Senators from 11 states. Many of the visits were with offices where the Member of Congress is on an appropriations committee, education committee or tied to manufacturing either through a committee or caucus.
Foundation members were so pleased by the response that they want to do Hill visits again next year and perhaps make this an annual event. They’re currently following up with their congressional offices and they have found in many instances the Senators of Representatives are interested in attending or building events back in the states. This was a great start to what I believe can be an important new initiative for SkillsUSA, CTE and industry.
On March 14 and 15, several staff members and I traveled to Mooresville, N.C., to meet with various Lowe’s representatives and executives. One key topic was the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation (LCEF) review and approval of the 2011 grant allocations, which will carry forward programs including state Championships TeamWorks events, support for the WorldTeam, Championships support, and CareerSafe, among others.
While we were reviewing the Community Service and Campus Improvement Grant applications, SkillsUSA and Lowe’s decided future grants will be evaluated in part on how the grant-funded projects address essential and basic needs and whether they will be long-lasting and self-sustaining.
In an exciting new development, Lowe’s executives agreed to help SkillsUSA grow its partnership base by soliciting their own vendor partners on our behalf. The goal is to acquire at least 10 new vendor sponsors for SkillsUSA by this summer building upon “The Power of 10” theme established during last year’s conference.
Also, the team spent a great deal of time helping to coordinate and organize Lowe’s presence during national conference, their giveaway pavilion and their sponsorship of the awards ceremony.
Other discussions centered on using social media to promote our partnership, public relations and special projects to come. More exciting news came from the Kobalt team. Not only will they continue their tool giveaway program, but they are expanding the program to include 1,000 schools. And, they are also creating an opportunity for a very special event that we’ll announce soon for a lucky and talented SkillsUSA student.
- Air Products’ John McGlade, CEO Champion of the Year, will be a featured speaker at the National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education consortium (NASDCTEc) spring meeting in Washington, D.C. SkillsUSA is delighted John will take the time to talk to the state leaders of CTE about their new vision for CTE, the value of CTE and maybe just a little about the value of SkillsUSA. Thanks to Laurie Gostley-Hackett, Youth Development Foundation Committee member from Air Products, for her coordination of John’s participation.
- In answer to proposed cuts to Perkins funding this year, and in support of both NASDCTEc and the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE) urgent requests to contact Congress, SkillsUSA sent out more than 16,000 e-mails asking our professional members and technical committee members to call Congress. We’re getting reports back from the field. One said: “Our congressman said his office has been flooded with faxes and e-mails so he’s shut them down. Calling is the only thing that works.” It appears this will be a busy year for advocacy given the pressure of the federal budget.
- In an effort to encourage more U.S. participation in the WorldSkills Competitions this October, we have been working with the London organizing committee to offer special hotel/conference packages to our members. These packages would be available for five-night stays either at the beginning or end of the conference (from October 5-8) and would include breakfasts, admission to the competitions and to the opening or closing ceremonies, transportation to and from the airport and an excursion. The costs are approximately $500 (U.S. dollars) per person based on SkillsUSA registering at least 50 people. The organizing committee has put together various other hotel packages, and their travel agency will work directly with individuals who prefer to plan their own trips. Contact them by e-mail at email@example.com. All information regarding the competitors, the 2011 WSC schedule and the housing packages can be viewed on our Web page at www.skillsusa.org/compete/worldteam.shtml. Please direct any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Here’s a list of additional reports. The executive directors of the Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) held a meeting with Brenda Dann-Messier, assistant secretary, U.S. Department of Education, on February 15 to discuss CTSO policy. We started the energy audit of the National Leadership Center on February 25 and hope to have a preliminary report ready by the next board meeting. The second half of the staff has now gone through (and passed) Red Cross CPR and First Aid training. Cindy Sutton, former YDF member and now executive VP of Earth Alive dropped by the office on February 7 with the two co-founders of Purple Heart Homes seeking advice for the start up of a nonprofit. And, finalists for the Lowe’s national conference pin and T-shirt designs have been selected. Lowe’s will be announcing the winners soon.
The dates for WorldSkills London are October 5-8, 2011 and will be conducted at the ExCeL London Exhibition and Conference center in London, England. The contest organizers are expecting almost 1,200 competitors from 52 countries competing in 41 official competitions and five demonstration contests.
SkillsUSA is moving forward with plans to enter 18 competitions and we will have a total of 18 competitors—the most ever for the U.S. We will enter four new contest areas in 2011. They are beauty therapy, graphic design, Web design and restaurant service.
The competitions will be open to the public at no cost. You may also purchase tickets to the opening and closing ceremonies at a cost of £20.
In an effort to encourage more U.S. participation in the WorldSkills Competitions, we have been working with the London organizing committee to offer special hotel/conference packages to our members. These packages would be available for five-night stays either at the beginning or ending of the conference and would include breakfasts, admission to the competitions and to the opening or closing ceremonies, transportation to and from the airport and an excursion. The costs are approximately $500 (U.S. dollars) per person based on SkillsUSA registering at least 50 people.
The organizing committee has put together various other hotel packages, and their travel agency will work direct with individuals who prefer to plan their own trip. Contact them by e-mail at email@example.com.
All information regarding the competitors, the 2011 WSC schedule and the housing packages can be viewed on our Web page at www.skillsusa.org/compete/worldteam.shtml. Please direct any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Provisional registration is due by March 15. Please act now to register for the WorldSkills Competition!
On November 3, I departed for Atlanta to attend the 2010 Fabtech conference. It was great to see our partners from the American Welding Society (AWS), Lincoln Electric, Miller Electric and many more. I was there to see our top welding students in the “Weld-Off” Semifinals that will help determine our SkillsUSA WorldTeam competitor for London 2011. As a former welding student and instructor myself, I can say I have never been more impressed than by the quality of the work I saw these six top students perform. Their technical skills were truly world-class, but so were their leadership and professional skills. I spent time with each of them, and they were all well-mannered, well-spoken, well-groomed and extremely polite. These are the times that demonstrate SkillsUSA’s mission of empowering our members to be world-class workers, leaders and responsible American citizens. WorldSkills Australia participated in the event to “practice and benchmark” against our students. The AWS Weld-Off was administered by two SkillsUSA alumni, Nick Peterson (Miller Electric) and Brandon Muehlbrandt (Lincoln Electric), both of whom are successful corporate representatives and former international welding medalists.
I was honored to announce the three semi-finalists during the closing banquet. The three will train and compete between now and June, and the final competition to determine the SkillsUSA WorldTeam welding competitor will be held during NLSC in June. The semi-finalists are Alex Pazkowski and Bradley Klink from Michigan and Zachary Brown from Mississippi. During the closing banquet AWS President John Bruskotter (Louisiana) and President-Elect John Mendoza (Texas) presented all six students with $1,000 scholarships. Bruskotter attended the SkillsUSA NLSC last June and is a big fan (he’s also a SkillsUSA alumnus) and Mendoza is a great supporter of our Texas college/postsecondary program.
You can view my comments from Fabtech and the Weld-Off on YouTube below:
Here is a message from Nick Peterson: