- On February 28, SkillsUSA appeared on Capitol Hill for a congressional event entitled “Beyond the Farm: Integrating Agriculture, STEM and CTE in the 21st Century.” The event was hosted by the Congressional CTE Caucus, ACTE, NASDCTEc and the Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs). SkillsUSA was represented by landscaping student, Elizabeth Shrive, and advisor, Diane Ogg Herndon, from Frederick, Md. Liz’s presentation was on testing soil pH levels and she spoke a lot to the congressional aides about what CTE means to her. Four other CTSOs exhibited as well.
- Planning is underway for the Youth Development Foundation Committee’s Washington, D.C. visits in April. Our YDF delegates will have some attention-getting statistics to put before the congressional offices, thanks to some research recently done here at the office.
- 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.
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?”
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.
- Membership as of December 22 stood at 180,132 or 13,670 over our membership on that date last year. It also appears that Total Participation Plan membership is increasing over last year.
- Staff attended a panel discussion recently hosted by the Manufacturing Institute of the National Association of Manufacturers and Youth Development Foundation member Emily DeRocco. The subject of discussion was the disconnect between the skilled worker needs of manufacturing employers and the education system. Panelists included former SkillsUSA board member Bryan Albrecht and current YDF member Lynn Scheitrum of Air Products.
- There are two new developments at the National Leadership Center. Staff reports that the wheelchair lift is now installed and has received its certificate of completion. Thanks go to Lowe’s for helping to underwrite this important improvement in service to our guests and members. And, SkillsUSA will be installing a new FIOS connection that should boost our Internet speed considerably and at a much reduced cost.