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Professional Development Blasts into Cyberspace

We have ignition. We have liftoff.

SkillsUSA’s Professional Development Program has entered cyberspace. Destination? Your computer.

Now you can access the first two levels of PDP — the award-winning curriculum that helps students develop the essential employability skills today’s job market demands — through interactive online modules. Teachers can use the PDP as a self-paced study program or a class course. If you’d like more information, visit

SkillsUSA has also joined with Salt Lake Community College in Utah to introduce an Internet-based career enhancement course for postsecondary students. The course covers topics such as goal-setting, communications, solutions to workplace problems and more. Visit /cesconline.html to get details of this new venture. To infinity and beyond!

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Pride in the Face of Tragedy

The words "symphony" and "legendary Charlie Daniels" aren't heard together often. But they harmonized beautifully at "Symphony for America: A Celebration of Youth." Daniels, one of many performers at the event, met SkillsUSA's Zach Emerson

On Sept. 11, 2002, SkillsUSA representatives joined an audience of thousands on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington. The reason? “Symphony for America: A Celebration of Youth,” an event designed to remember the tragedies of Sept. 11, 2001, through music and testimonials.

Zach Emerson — SkillsUSA’s national postsecondary secretary — spoke to the audience about the many community service activities conducted nationwide by members in response to the previous year’s attacks.

From supporting the Red Cross to celebrating American freedom, SkillsUSA members contributed to the national healing process.

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D.C. Discussion: What’s the Best Path to Success?

Is a bachelor’s degree the best pathway to the American dream? During a revamped Washington Leadership Training Institute (WLTI), SkillsUSA asked eight experts if old ideas still apply.

We expected a lively debate from those favoring four-year colleges and those behind career and technical education. But, when it came down to it, both groups agreed that the education system needs to change — and that SkillsUSA provides a lot of what’s missing.

“Very rarely do we see young people lose jobs because they don’t know how to do something. They lose jobs because of attitudes,” said James Wall, deputy director of the National Institute for Metalworking Skills. “In SkillsUSA, students learn the leadership skills and attitudes needed to succeed in the workplace.”

Other panelists agreed that besides having positive attitudes, what students really need is an education system that will deliver a balance of employability skills, relative academics and solid basics including reading, language, social studies, math and science.

The “town meeting” was webcast by the National Dissemination Center for Career and Technical Education.

A Whole New WLTI
SkillsUSA’s fall conference is now for members with demonstrated leadership ability. Students applied in advance and completed assignments before their arrival in the nation’s capital. Advisors had their own sessions on how to lead the change process in schools and districts, develop strategies to gain support for education issues, motivate supporters and learn from those who take risks. The all-new program included a talent competition, offering everyone a way to blow off steam.

Career and technical ed? Four-year college? Or some of both?
Kimberly Green, executive director, National Association for State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium: “The largest demand for occupational growth is for an associate’s degree or some other sort of skills training. I think that the key to achieving the American dream is a set of skills that includes both academic and technical as well as employability skills. Having one right certificate, whether it’s a bachelor’s degree or an associate’s degree is not the one right path.”

Krista Kafer, senior policy analyst for domestic and economic policy, The Heritage Foundation: “We have long advocated a strong set of basic skills for every person, so that when candidates are facing changes and they determine to go back to school or change careers, they can.”

James Wall, deputy director, National Institute for Metalworking Skills: “Once you get out into the work place, the technology changes on a daily basis and you need to be able to appraise that. The valuable employees are the employees who learn a way to continue education on a daily basis. It really doesn’t matter what certificate or paper you have or whether it’s a degree. It’s what skills you bring to a job on a daily basis and your eagerness to learn and change as technology changes.”

Joyce Winterton, associate director for education programs, USA Today:
“We’re constantly changing our processes and using new technology and strategies, and if you can’t change as the needs of the company change, you’re going to be left in the dust.”

Belle Wheelan, Virginia secretary of education: “I think teachers and business are finally talking to each other. There are many programs across the country where teachers in elementary and secondary schools are spending time in businesses to understand what that particular occupation is about so that they can then go back and make their curriculum more relevant.”

Robert Baird, vice president of apprenticeship and training, Independent Electrical Contractors Inc.: “One’s individual knowledge and ability, drive, determination and willingness to learn are the keys to a managerial position. What you learn throughout the continuum as opposed to the formal degree — that makes a difference.”

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SkillsUSA Champions | Winter 2003 | Volume 37, No. 2
Copyright ©2003 SkillsUSA. All rights reserved.