Magazine article Vocational Education Journal

Opportunity Glows within the Gloom

Magazine article Vocational Education Journal

Opportunity Glows within the Gloom

Article excerpt

There's been a lot of bad news to deal with lately. Visiting several state association conferences this summer, I played the unfortunate role of bearer of bad tidings.

Our nation's capital has been the source for much of these woes. Congress is in the middle of budget battles with the White House and many government operations may shut down. This scenario, which has loomed before, is affectionately referred to in Washington, D.C., as a "train wreck."

Vocational education is facing funding cuts of 10 to 30 percent at the federal level and perhaps more cuts in state and local funding. School-based vocational education legislation in Congress has been thrown into the maelstrom of job training and welfare reform. Serious discussions about eliminating the U.S. Department of Education that began earlier this year will continue, and similar discussions are taking place in several states.

Given these circumstances, you would think I'd be pretty depressed, but I'm not. With all this bad news, why do I feel so good?

AVA membership is up over last year and is continuing to increase every month. The AVA Board of Directors is putting final touches on a strategic plan that is forward-looking and will help the association position itself for the future.

We are offering new services to our members, such as workshops around the country on important topics like implementing school-to-work systems that factor in strong career guidance and counseling components. We are entering into new "service agreements" with several states to assist our affiliated organizations in member promotion, processing and renewal. Our newest practical guide on how to implement successful strategies for the school-to-career transition was just published, and sales of our latest publication, the School-To-Work Reporter, are steadily increasing.

At AVA headquarters, we're renewing our focus on cost savings and quality member service. Several internal moves to improve operating efficiency will save the association $100,000 this year alone. We are putting these savings to work for members in several areas, such as forming a service unit to better handle member telephone inquiries, product orders and conference registration. A new computer system has helped our crack membership and accounting staff reduce the time it takes to process membership applications and renewals from six days to 48 hours. A new convention planning process is being put into place to improve the quality of convention programs and allow a greater diversity of presenters to submit ideas for sessions. …

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