Executive Director’s Report: July 15, 2014

Superlatives are in place for SkillsUSA’s 50th National Leadership and Skills Conference and we certainly can say:

  • This was our largest conference in history.
  • It was a great celebration with some excellent speakers including Bill Prince at the Call to Action session. Bill was a student at the SkillsUSA founding in Nashville and a great example of what this organization is about.
  • Dynamic general sessions thanks to CAT and Lowe’s and to Cameron Ferguson and Chris Arvin (Caterpillar Inc.) and Troy Dally (Lowe’s Companies, Inc.), and of course, our own national staff).
* There were the most competitors ever with more than 6,000 entrants in 99 contests.
  • We had 466 special guests attending, 322 from business and 144 from education.
  • There were 1,985 volunteers for the SkillsUSA Championships alone including judges, technical committee and national education team members to name just a few.
  • And, we awarded 996 medals, gold, silver and bronze.

SkillsUSA was in the news before, during and after the conference week appearing on all four network affiliates numerous times, several times in the Kansas City Star including front page above the fold, and in other publications and radio. Our Kansas City media report lists 96 different instances of coverage prior to and shortly after conference. No wonder the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association says SkillsUSA is the gold standard when it comes to convention coverage.

Here’s one of my favorite superlatives. It’s a quote emailed to me from a Freightliner executive in Georgia. “The entire SkillsUSA National event has renewed my faith in the youth of today. Y’all do a really great job in helping those students find direction and purpose for their lives. I was really impressed with just how focused, driven, articulate and polite the SkillsUSA students were. They’re a real breath of fresh air. Congratulations on 50 years. What an inspirational couple days!”

And the members were talking and sharing on social media too. According to Craig Moore:

  • Our pre-conference Facebook “likes” grew over 1,500 to 19,976 post-conference.
  • Our YouTube views for the past 30 days are 17,667. That’s a 336 percent increase from the previous 30-day period.
  • Viewers watched a total of 63,279 minutes on YouTube during the past 30 days. That equals 43 days and 22 hours viewing, an increase of 140 percent over the previous 30-day period.
  • And, 55 percent of the viewers watched on computer, 30 percent on a mobile phone and 13 percent on a tablet.

But the best part is to tune in and read some of the posts from the students themselves. Craig has created a tagboard so you can scroll through Tweets, Instagram photos, Facebook posts and Google+ posts using the conference hashtag. Just go to the tagboard at https://tagboard.com/NLSC14/180380.

There’s also an outstanding “Week in Review” video from Tom Kercheval that does a great job of capturing the excitement of the conference in just five minutes, including the appearance of Mike Rowe at the end. Enjoy at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKO9Yw7qKUM#t=17 and thanks to the partners who made it possible

Meeting with the Chiefs

Tuesday through Thursday this week, I was in Florida for the Chief State School Officers Career Readiness Task Force of 18 people including five of the chiefs and some education experts. (That’s where I come in.) We reviewed a draft of guiding principles and recommended action steps and best practices to teach career readiness. The goal of the task force is to help every student graduate “career ready.” Not surprisingly, defining “career ready” was one of the major discussions during the meeting. SkillsUSA was cited several times as an excellent model for business-education partnerships. The next meeting is in Washington D.C. in September, and in October, there will be a tour of two European education systems. The final report is due in November.

One of the pluses is getting quality time with the chiefs. I had extended visits with four of the five chiefs including Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland and Wisconsin. The chief from Kentucky has already promised me he’ll attend our national conference next year. I also spoke at length with a representative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce foundation regarding a new vision and policy recommendations the foundation is working on for employer engagement with education. The focus is to develop the workforce that will close the skills gap. I’ve been asked to name one of our business partners to serve on the Chamber committee. And, I had a great visit with board member Scott Stump.

Highlights

  • Congratulations to Wisconsin high school state director, Brent Kindred, for his election as president of the SkillsUSA Board of Directors, to Mike de Castro of Air Products as Vice President and to Chris Arvin of Caterpillar Inc. for his continuing role as Secretary. And, welcome to Maryland state director, Chuck Wallace, representing Region 1 and Alex Gromada representing ACTE and Southern Illinois CJAP.
  • And, finally, I just received the news release today on Friday that Colorado State CTE Director and board member Scott Stump has been elected president of the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education consortium (NASDCTEc) for the upcoming year. Congratulations, Scott.

That’s it for now. Until next time, thank you for all you do for the great students and teachers we serve.