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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: www.skillsusa.org/compete/worldteamphotos.shtml.

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: www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7384501n&tag=contentMain;contentBody

Highlights

September 1st, 2011
  • Twenty-five states have registered for the Washington Leadership Training Institute. We’re working to secure speakers for the advisors’ track. I believe this will be another substantive series of sessions.
  • Alumni membership is now at 26,112 and the alumni now have a new page on the SkillsUSA website for archiving their series of professional development webinars.
  • At the Louisville conference, a new training tool kit for state student officers was introduced that was very well received. This kit comes in a large duffle bag packed full of tools to help officers conduct state and local workshops on the roles of SkillsUSA leaders and implementation of our Program of Work. The kit also includes props that will be purchased by state officer teams at their local Lowe’s Store. Lowe’s sponsored the development of this exciting new training tool.
  • The SkillsUSA, Inc. board of directors will be meeting on September 19 at the SkillsUSA National Leadership Center during the Washington Leadership Training Institute. On September 20, the board will be going to Capitol Hill with our student leaders for Congressional visits. This will be an excellent opportunity for our students, in tandem with our governing body, to tell the SkillsUSA story to policymakers.
  • We are finalizing plans for the fall meeting of the Youth Development Foundation hosted by Air Products in Bethlehem, Pa. September 14-15. Special thanks to Laurie Gostley-Hackett who will be our host. We have 17 attendees registered and look forward to the meeting.

Highlights

August 1st, 2011
  • On July 21, I had dinner with our new student officer team. They were just beginning nine days of training at the National Conference Center in Ashburn, Va. This is a great group of students. They’re diverse, highly qualified and they’ve already got their hands around their leadership skills.
  • On the morning of July 18, I attended a meeting at The Manufacturing Institute of the partners in the Skills for America’s Future Program announced by President Obama in June. The meeting was hosted by YDF member, Emily DeRocco. We discussed a job-match service being provided by The White House to manufacturing and education to pull qualified workers into partnering manufacturing companies. We also started to develop our work plans and the quarterly reporting process. SkillsUSA will be working with Air Products to recruit students to manufacturing careers and to bring more partners to the process.
  • In the afternoon I met with Bradley Hull, deputy executive director of the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE). Brad told me that NASBE had identified five organizations they want to work with on advocacy initiatives and SkillsUSA is one of them. His particular interest is in finding a common voice for the arts and career and technical education because we face some common challenges including being among the “first to get cut” when school budgets are tight. Our discussions will continue.
  • July 12-14, I was in Atlanta conducting SkillsUSA Georgia High School Division board training and strategic planning. State association director, Gayle Silvey, has a great board and together I believe they came up with a good plan with attainable goals. While there, I also attended the Georgia ACTE Conference and met with all of the Georgia construction teachers. SkillsUSA’s great friend, “Sonny” Cannon, was presented with the Outstanding Educator of the Year Award just prior to his retirement. Sonny leaves a legacy including business foundations to support CTE and the model of how to use our national conference as a VIP event to capture industry and policy maker attention.
  • The news coverage keeps coming in. We’ve now received a final report on news coverage in the greater-Kansas City area and we’re up to 85 stories. We were on the front page of the Kansas City Star twice. The “Money Pit” radio show (syndicated on 250 stations nationwide) aired on July 18 and featured interviews with John Gaal, former SkillsUSA board member from ACTE and the Carpenters District Council of Greater St. Louis, two national student officers, Mike Rowe and me. To listen to the broadcast, go to this link.
  • Speaking of Mike Rowe, SkillsUSA is featured on the mikerowWORKS website with information on the scholarship winners from this year’s conference, and they’ve posted video streaming from the Collision Repair Technology contest area by Collisionhub. The host was Bob Medved of State Farm Insurance. To see the news and the videos, please go to: www.mikeroweworks.com/2011/07/bob-medved-interviews-pablo-fuentes-ceo-of-workers-now-at-skillsusa/. There’s also a video of Tina White of mikeroweWORKS. And, SkillsUSA also received a mention on the CNN Money/Fortune site in relation to Proven.com. The link here is: http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2011/07/21/social-networking-for-bricklayers/.
  • As mentioned earlier, the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education consortium (NASDCTEc) has been working for nearly a year on a new brand for CTE. Mark Williams, our new board member from NASDCTEc, introduced the new brand during the Call to Action session in Kansas City. SkillsUSA has been helping on the communications advisory committee (Tom Holdsworth was recently a co-presenter with the president of the PR firm that developed the brand) and the state directors’ website has now been updated. The slogan is CTE: Learning that Works for America. Presentations, talking points and other supporting materials for the initiative can be found at www.careertech.org under the tab “resources.”
  • The Association of Career and Technical Education released a paper on how career and technical education student organizations (CTSOs) expand career readiness for students. The July 6 ACTE news release says:  ”National dialogue has escalated around the concepts of college and career readiness, but most of the focus has been on academic skills alone. Th[is] paper . . . concentrates on how elements of the CTE system support students’ academic, technical and employability skill development.” Among the bullet points: “Students who participate in CTSOs demonstrate higher levels of academic engagement and motivation, civic engagement, career self-efficacy, and employability skills than other students, and the more students participate in CTSO activities, the better the results.” The paper is available at: www.acteonline.org/uploadedFiles/Publications_and_Online_Media/files/CTSO_Career_Readiness.pdf. We’re pleased that the photo right up top is from the SkillsUSA conference this year.
  • Planning is already under way for the 2012 SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference. We held our post-conference meeting on the 19th and we’re pulling together the top-ten list for improvements. On the 21st, staff was in Richmond, Va. to meet with the design team for TeamWorks to create the state association-level contest and our championships director is pulling together all the information and data he’ll need to take to the state association directors at their meeting in August to determine official and demonstration contests for 2012.
  • And, finally, here’s a story from Springfield, Mo. about two Ozarks Technical Community College culinary students who were invited to cook for Sheryl Crow and her band along with her private chef just because they’d been in the SkillsUSA Championships. I just think that’s kind of neat. To view the story, go to www.news-leader.com/article/20110715/NEWS04/107150363/Students-OTC-cook-Crow-band?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE.

Another Banner Conference for a New Group of Students

July 15th, 2011

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?”

Photos and videos from the 2011 NLSC are archived here.

Highlights

June 1st, 2011
  • I have the honor announcing the addition of a new board member. Mark Williams, division administrator, Career Development Division, Illinois State Board of Education has agreed to serve in the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education consortium ex officio position previously held by Milt Ericksen. I hope Mark will be with us in June and I look forward to working with him.
  • I have the additional honor of announcing a new Youth Development Foundation committee member, Michael Arndt, director of training, United Association. According to our records, Michael will be the first union official to serve on the YDF. United Association is supporting our Refrigeration contestant at WorldSkills London and UA has supported contestants at the past two WorldSkills Competitions
  • Groups of 30 students and teachers from the various career and technical student organizations (CTSOs) met with Brenda Dann-Messier, assistant secretary at the Office of Vocational and Adult Education in Washington on May 6. There was lots of diversity of opinion – particularly among the teachers – as to the meanings and importance of college-ready and career-ready. One teacher said: “All students should get a four-year degree.” Another pointed out the value of CTE when students can earn an associate’s degree in high school with dual credits. Students believed the assistant secretary learned more about the value of CTSOs and how CTSO membership has changed their lives. Nursing student Cloe Ayenu and counselor Martha Lowry, both from Frederick County Career Center in Maryland, represented SkillsUSA. Also in the delegation were National Officer Ricky Jordan from Massachusetts and Deb Tripp, SkillsUSA associate director of training and a former graphic arts teacher.
  • On May 4-5, I attended the BPA (Business Professionals of America) national conference in Washington, D.C. The opening ceremony was held on the grounds of the Washington Monument. It was really impressive with the lights of the monument and the flags in the background. It was also cold. BPA recognized each of the CTSOs in attendance including SkillsUSA, FBLA, FCCLA and National FFA. Between 3,000-4,000 people attended the conference.
  • On April 29-30, I attended the ProStart event in Overland Park, Kan. ProStart is the national competition for the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. Teams of three students competed in Culinary and in Culinary Management. Forty states represented about 300 contestants. Several of the instructors attending were also SkillsUSA advisors and they said their students would be in Kansas City this month. We’re aligning standards between SkillsUSA and ProStart, and they’re also aligning their curriculum to the same standards.
  • SkillsUSA’s CTE advocacy efforts on the “Dear Colleague” letter to Congress from May 5-12 were good. We just need to work our way up to great. During the week, 67 people called or wrote 69 messages to 53 congressional offices. We do appreciate all the support, and lots of people responded to us that they liked knowing what was happening and having the chance to participate.
  • On May 9, representatives from the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) visited with us in Leesburg to talk about how they could help us get our educational materials in front of industry including the Skill Connect Assessments. NCCER has also taken over the leadership of the Carpentry contest and they’re bringing their national board to our conference this year. Board members include representatives from several major corporations and commercial contractors.
  • And, as of May 27, we had 9,686 national conference registrants and 5,764 contestants. Last year’s totals were 9,606 registrants and 5,595 contestants, and we still have weeks to go.

Youth Development Foundation Advocacy Makes History

May 1st, 2011

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.

Highlights

April 15th, 2011
  • Membership has broken through to 300,483. That means when we add in alumni and other memberships, we’ll be over 320,000 for the year. In an economy that’s really hitting our schools, it’s something to celebrate.
  • I attended the HVACR Instructor National Workshop in Landsdowne, Va. I was the featured speaker at the closing on March 25 and did both a legislative and SkillsUSA update.
  • The Manufacturing Institute of the National Association of Manufacturers has just published a report called “Roadmap to Education Reform for Manufacturing.” Among its recommendations to overcome skilled worker and skill shortages: “Expand successful youth development programs . . . These programs must be replicated and brought to scale if we are going to reach the number of students necessary to reinvigorate manufacturing . . .” And, the first of the three listed organizations is SkillsUSA, and it is cited two more times as well. Thanks go to Emily DeRocco and Lynn Scheitrum of Air Products for making this happen. Here’s the link: http://institute.nam.org/view/The_Manufacturing_Institute_Releases_Roadmap_for_E/info
  • Brenda Dann-Messier, assistant secretary of education, has requested that student organizations take students and teachers to Washington in May to hold a town hall-style meeting in her CTE Community Conversation series. She wants to hear from the students and then the teachers on career clusters and career pathways. SkillsUSA will be there.
  • And, the YDF Capitol Hill visits on April 7 were a huge success. Meetings were scheduled with staff members from the Senate Health, Labor and Pensions Education Committee and with two of Senator Rockefeller’s aides on the Commerce Committee. We met with Brenda Dann-Messier and individual YDF members made constituent visit appointments. I’ll give a more detailed report next time.

Highlights

March 1st, 2011
  • 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 worldskillslondon@travelplaces.co.uk. 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 akranenberg@skillsusa.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.

Highlights

February 15th, 2011

Membership as of Friday was 269,044 and that’s exceeding the previous year same day total by 15,960. We have just about two weeks until the membership deadline, and we’re cautiously optimistic.

We added a new corporate partner. Blaklader-North America has come on board as an unrestricted sponsor for the SkillsUSA Championships.

The 2011 Lowe’s SkillsUSA Grants have been announced. Schools and colleges received Community Service Grants in 12 states and Campus Improvement Grants in 16 states. The list can be found at: www.skillsusa.org/educators/lowesgrants.shtml#Lowes 2011.

Two representatives from Project Lead the Way (PLTW) came to the SkillsUSA National Leadership Center to visit recently. Rosanne White and Sandy Honour of TSA (Technology Student Association) joined us. The discussion was around a new online portfolio program developed by PLTW to encourage student innovation for pre-engineering students. It’s supported by a grant from the Kern Family Foundation and is tied in with the Small Business Administration. They also pledged continued financial support for Engineering Alliance Web updates this year.

We’re working on the strategy for the April Youth Development Foundation Committee meeting visits in Washington, D.C. We know the committee will have great things to say about career and technical education and SkillsUSA.


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