CTSOs Brief Department of Education Senior Officials
Leesburg, Va. — SkillsUSA, a national nonprofit organization for career-focused students, was part of a recent Workforce Development and Career and Technical Education (CTE) Listening Session sponsored by the White House Office of Public Liaison. The June 1 event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, provided an opportunity for White House staff and senior administration officials to hear directly from the leaders of career and technical student organizations (CTSOs) on their programming and what works within CTE, including industry partnerships and employment pathways.
Representing SkillsUSA were national officer Mackenzie Oestreich, high-school division secretary from Oklahoma; Sam Bottum, chief marketing officer and vice president at Snap-on Incorporated and vice president of the SkillsUSA board of directors; and Christa Floresca, director of business partnerships and development for SkillsUSA. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos attended the event and learned more about SkillsUSA and its important role in developing America’s future workforce.
“It was such an honor to represent SkillsUSA in Washington, D.C,” Oestreich said about the trip. “I met Secretary DeVos and talked about topics that changed my life: SkillsUSA and career and technical education. To help officials understand that there are other opportunities in education, including CTE and the skilled trades, which our county desperately needs, was incredible.”
SkillsUSA is one of the largest student groups in the nation, with more than 335,000 members enrolled annually. “SkillsUSA is considered a talent pipeline and a vital solution to the skills gap,” said executive director Timothy W. Lawrence. “Our organization is growing, and so is our importance to the economy as we continue to positively influence a new generation of student members who will in turn make a difference in their communities, their nation and their world. SkillsUSA is more than a student organization – it is a workforce development catalyst where America’s future highly skilled technical workforce can connect with their future employers.”Students like Mackenzie Oestreich serve in elected roles to help lead the organization. Oestreich is a 2017 graduate of Tulsa Technology Center Peoria Campus, and her school advisor is Richard Stewart. The student will attend Northeastern State University and major in political science, and future plans include law school. She has served as SkillsUSA 2016-17 national high-school secretary, a role that included leadership training and travel opportunities as a national ambassador.
SkillsUSA is a vital solution to the growing U.S. skills gap. This nonprofit partnership of students, instructors and industry ensures America has the skilled workforce it needs to stay competitive. Founded in 1965 and endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education, the association serves more than 335,000 students and instructors each year in middle schools, high schools and colleges. This diverse talent pipeline covers 130 trades, technical and skilled service occupations, the majority STEM-related. More than 600 corporations, trade associations, businesses and labor unions actively support SkillsUSA at the national level. SkillsUSA programs are integrated into career and technical education through the SkillsUSA Framework of personal, workplace and technical skills grounded in academics. Local, state and national championships, designed and judged by industry, set relevant standards for career and technical education and provide recognition to students. The 2017 SkillsUSA Championships—the nation’s largest showcase for career and technical education with 100 unique student competitions— will be held June 19-23 in Louisville, Ky. SkillsUSA also offers technical skill assessments and other workplace credentials. For more information, visit: www.SkillsUSA.org.