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Youth Development Foundation Advocacy Makes History

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.

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