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Web Professionals Organization Announces Improved Model for 2022 SkillsUSA Web Design Competition

Web Professionals Organization Announces Improved Model for 2022 SkillsUSA Web Design Competition

The Web Professionals Organization is proud to announce a new and streamlined model for states to deploy SkillsUSA Web Design and Development competitions in 2022.

Building on over 20 years of experience running competitions, including the last two years of competitions run 100% virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Web Professionals
Organization has improved the process for administering competitions at the state level. This refreshed competition model is the most accessible it has ever been, enabling students to focus on creating innovative projects and equipping facilitators to run the competition seamlessly. Students only need a PC, Mac or Chromebook and an internet connection to participate in the competitions—giving those in rural, urban and suburban areas equal access.

Competitions can be run entirely online, which levels the playing field for students across the country in the age of COVID-19. This new competition model is future-proof and will be able to be implemented for years to come, no matter what the pandemic looks like in coming years. Competitions are run for free, and the model makes the judging process more standardized and easier than ever before. States can run competitions whenever they want throughout 2022.

Not only does our new approach make it easier for any state to run their own web design and development competition, but it also ensures that every state is conducting their own competition that models the expectations the competitors will need to meet at the national competition. This gives every state—from small to large—the same turnkey resources to ensure a successful competition. This model is intended to only be used for the current cycle of SkillsUSA competitions.

Highlights of this new model include:

  • Competition project with all graphic and textual assets that are similar in scope and style to what the competitors will experience at the national competition.
  • Competitor coding validator (a simple app) that will automatically check a team’s project and give your judging team a report outlining the quality of coding. This tool does in just minutes what would take a person one hour, dramatically cutting down on judging time.
  • Easy-to-apply rubrics help both new and veteran judges quickly evaluate team projects for creativity, design and best practices.
  • Web-based coding editor and folder system allows judges to easily review any state competitor submissions. Judges can review work with just an internet connection, allowing states to have judges join virtually from anywhere.
  • Web-based editor and site storage means your events committee does not have to worry that any competitor’s work can be lost or misplaced—all of it remains safe on the web.
  • Judging preparation materials and training videos are included to make it easy for new judges to quickly get up to speed and be able to deliver consistent judging.
  • Optional competition kickoff and welcome video delivers a consistent message to all competitors as well as some helpful hints about the competition project.
  • Technical back up and support provided by the Web Professionals Organization.
  • Fast and easy sign-up for state SkillsUSA leadership teams to reserve their free competition kit and web-based tools suite.

Because of these new systems the Web Professionals Organization is implementing for this year, any state can run a turnkey competition and give students an opportunity to build
meaningful projects in an engaging online environment. All of this is provided free of charge to any state wishing to have an organized and impactful state-level web design and development competition to prepare their students well for the national competition.

Career in Web Design and Development in the Age of COVID-19

Career in Web Design and Development in the Age of COVID-19

By Steve Waddell, Director of Education and Training

Traditional retail was already taking a big hit before the days of COVID-19. But the worldwide pandemic has accelerated the shifts we began to see in retail over the last 5 years and accelerated the closing of many retail operations, both big and small. Essentially, the hope for most businesses is to become COVID-proof, meaning serving customers as easily online as in the store. For retailers this means finding a way to take that great customer experience of the store and move it to a strong web presence. 

This means an opportunity is opening up—a new and growing demand for web designers, developers, content writers, and retail experts to help small and large operations convert what they used to do on the sales floor to making the magic happen online. Hard-working and talented retail staff who once walked the sales floors are well suited to take their retail knowledge and sales skills into the cloud to help retailers build success on the web

Before the COVID-19 crisis, web design and web development were already high-growth career paths. Now with companies scrambling to reach customers on the web, every business needs to have their web capacity to reach existing and new customers. To do this, retailers must have skilled web designers who can help bring the retail sales narrative to the business’s website. Selling on the web is a little different than selling in person, but retail skills still translate very well to web design and development. 

Web design and development is a fast-growing STEM career path that offers flexible and fun careers to those who don’t want to report to an office every day. The median salary for the industry is $73K and ranges up to $150K. Let’s take a look at how the retail experience aligns with web design and development.             

What Do Web Designers and Developers Do? 

Broadly speaking, web designers and developers work with clients to market products and services online. Designers utilize text, images and video to create websites and reach intended audiences. Developers write the code that provides the technical foundation of these websites. 

Most web designers and developers keep a foot in both the design and coding worlds. The beauty of this career is that you can weave elegant design with rock-solid code to create a compelling website for your client and site visitors. By merging visual and technical solutions, web designers and developers help their clients succeed and meet business goals. 

How Does Retail Experience Relate to a Career in Web Design and Development?

Retail workers looking to reskill have excellent qualities including working under pressure, talking through problems, taking on new responsibilities, managing time, taking initiative, and serving each and every customer with empathy and respect. Retail helps you learn how to focus on what you can control and not worry so much about the “overly concerned customer in aisle 3.”

In retail, you help people figure out what service or product is right for them. Guess what? Much of that is at the core of what a web designer does—except instead of standing in a store, designers and developers figure out how to reach people through a web presence. Web designers and developers take client ideas, products and services, helping to sell them to targeted audiences. 

Benefits of a Career in Web Design and Development

According to research, 30 percent of the U.S. working population currently freelances in some capacity, and that will grow to 51 percent by 2020. Many web designers and developers freelance and/or work remotely, and that has only increased in the age of COVID-19. Surveys of freelancers show that they are happier and earn more than in previous office jobs. This isn’t a surprise: when the most recent recession hit, companies began to seek ways to cut costs. They began to hire contractors who could work from home, saving on rent, insurance, and utility costs, and allowing freelancers more flexibility over when and where they could work. Web design and development is one of the growing STEM careers that offers unparalleled flexibility and opportunities to work on impactful projects.  

How Can I Get Started?

One of the wonderful things about the coding industry is that you don’t need a four-year degree (or even a two-year degree) to become a trained professional. To get started, you will need to gain technical skills, whether it be through online resources, books, or more organized courses. The easiest way to learn web design and development is to use media-rich courses that utilize images and video to engage you. All you need is a browser and text editor – you want to avoid courses that teach specific applications like Adobe Dreamweaver. Focus on basic skills first like HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript.  

As you learn, you will build a career-ready portfolio of your work including real-world projects, a digital resume and a portfolio website that will showcase your story to potential employers. This is important to demonstrate your technical aptitude and ability to successfully develop and guide a project from beginning to end. You can also achieve in-demand industry certifications to prove to companies you have a comprehensive skill set and are ready to produce for them on day one. 

WebProfessionals.org offers an engaging web design and development online course featuring over 200 engaging videos that will tutor you step by step, perfect for visual learners. The course also prepares you to sit for an International Industry-Recognized Certification (IIRC). Try to avoid courses that only offer a course completion certificate. Anybody can issue you a piece of paper saying you completed their course, and the industry knows this. An IIRC will help open more doors for you faster and get you career going quicker. So, take the time as you look around for training to be sure you know what you are getting for your educational investment.   

Reskilling in the Age of COVID-19

Although it can be a scary time, don’t panic. There are numerous opportunities out there for transitioning from retail to a new career. Why not web design and development? The federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) offers services for laid-off workers, dislocated workers and those transitioning to new jobs. This helps provide job training to people looking for a new challenge and growing career path. 

The Web Professionals Organization has reskilling courses available for workforce programs, vocational schools, universities, job centers and community colleges. Not sure where to go? Contact the Web Professionals Organization for more information today.

Web Development Certification to Connect Small Businesses in Need of Certified Students

WebProfessionals.org Announces Certification Grants to Support Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

WebProfessionals.org, a not for profit association for the global web design, development and web community, is proud to announce certification grants for web students and teachers in the U.S. 

In this unprecedented time that has caused economic and educational uncertainty, WebProfessionals.org, along with industry and member support, is making these certifications available to meet high job demand for web professionals. The goal of this effort is to help the U.S. economy and small business especially pressing now during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“WebProfessionals.org certifications established with the support of the U.S. Department of Education provide competent and ethical employees and contractors. We’re proud to be a supporter of this important initiative,” said Steve Waddell, Director of Education and Training of WebProfessionals.org and Founder and Lead Developer of curriculum development partner CTELearning.com. 

How will small businesses benefit? 

Small businesses adjusting to the economic disruptions resulting from COVID-19 will need to improve their online presence to continue meeting customer and client needs. To do so they will need skilled web professionals who also know how to reach target markets. A group of members in the Web Professionals Organization is making these certifications available to meet this high job demand with competent employees and contractors who can ensure businesses stay competitive through a robust web presence.  

Who qualifies?

Qualifying schools in all of the 50 U.S. states and Puerto Rico will receive grant certifications for select schools, districts and students.  

How to participate 

Eligible middle and high school students who complete eligible web professional training courses such as Web Development and Design; Coding Internet Games, Apps and Sites; and Web and Mobile Application Coding and Design can apply.

Webprofessionals.org certifications have been created with the backing of industry and small business hiring managers making them extremely valuable portfolio additions for students who may wish to pursue high-demand STEM fields and the digital arts as career pathways.

Support material

Courseware offered by WebProfessionals.org curriculum development partners gives students the chance to continue learning from home during COVID-19. Courses can be taught and learned 100% online, so students can continue to grow and work toward these certifications from their own kitchen or dining room table. 

About Webprofessionals.org 

Established in 1997, WebProfessionals.org is a non-profit professional association dedicated to advocacy and supporting individuals and organizations who create, manage and market websites, apps and web technologies. The organization provides education, training resources and certifications for those who work and teach in web technologies as well as those aspiring to enter this growing career field. WebProfessionals.org also manages and heads up the Web Design National Competition with a team of industry experts with SkillsUSA, the largest student to work organization in the U.S.  

About SchoolofWeb.org 

Sponsored by WebProfessionals.org the School of web provides web design, web development and web business training and education.www.schoolofweb.org

WebProfessionals.org Announces Director of Education and Training

WebProfessionals.org Announces Director of Education and Training

Steve Waddell to lead the Web Professional Association’s education and training efforts into a bold new future, increasing access to education and training around the globe

WebProfessionals.org, a nonprofit professional organization dedicated to encouraging and supporting the development of innovative, affordable and high quality web jobs and career training, has named Steve Waddell as Director of Education and Training.

Steve Waddell the office dog

In this new role, Waddell will use his 30 years of curriculum development, entrepreneurial and market experience to strategically expand the organization’s education initiatives and global influence. Building on the success of the WebProfessionals.org “SchoolofWeb.org” training program Waddell will seek out and cultivate strategic alliances and partnerships that acknowledge the tremendous contribution WebProfessionals.org has on advancing access to quality education and training on behalf of the millions of aspiring and practicing web workers everywhere.

“We are delighted to welcome Steve,” said Mark DuBois, Executive Director of the Web Professionals Association. “His experience and skills match up perfectly with our goals for the next phase of WebProfessionals.org work. Beyond a track record of building global coalitions and championing innovative solutions that improve lives, Steve brings an authentic and inspiring leadership style. His infectious energy, sense of humor and passion for making a positive social impact will propel us while creating a global movement that recognizes, supports, and promotes the vital and complementary role of individually-owned social enterprises.”

Waddell’s entire career has been dedicated to creating innovative solutions and building authentic relationships that result in positive outcomes for all. 

“Over the past decade, I have come to know the WebProfessionals.org team and their total commitment to their mission of supporting Web professionals and those that teach. It is hard not to be attracted to working with such a fantastic group of professionals. It is an honor to be joining the WebProfessionals.org team and championing the work of engaging and upskilling the next generation,” said Waddell. “I would not have accepted this opportunity if I had not already seen how WebProfessionals.org has always done the right thing to help existing professionals and professionals on a global scale. They are the international organization with an inclusive vision for all.

About WebProfessionals.org

Established in 1997, WebProfessionals.org is a non-profit professional association dedicated to the support of individuals and organizations who create, manage and market websites, apps and web technologies. The organization provides education and training resources as well as certifications for those who work and teach in web technologies as well as those aspiring to enter this growing career field.

WebProfessionals.org Certifies U.S. Rural High School Students

WebProfessionals.org Certifies U.S. Rural High School Students

First in Nation to Earn STEM/STEAM Stackable International Industry-Recognized Certifications developed by Webprofessionals.org

Haven, Kansas May 6, 2019 – Three Haven High School Students are the first in the U.S. to earn Associate Level Web Developer WebProfessionals.org stacking certifications from two separate courses at Haven High School. Additionally, nine more students earned Web and Mobile Application Industry Certifications also offered by WebProfessionals.org and three others earned Web Designer certification.

Graduating with WebProfessionals.org Certifications

All of these students will be graduating high school with industry-recognized WebProfessionals.org certifications, which is quite an accomplishment.

Haven High School is in its fifth year teaching these courses and providing students the opportunity to earn credentials. This continued success is led by the Haven Business Education Department, and the business educator responsible for this program is Jessica Wilson.

Steve Waddell—founder of CTeLearning and WebProfessionals.org curriculum development partner—was asked to visit Haven HS and present a banner on behalf of the WebProfessionals.org to recognize it as the most credentialed school in KS. Haven students have earned more industry-recognized certifications than any other school in Kansas.

Haven High School currently runs both the Web and Mobile Application Development and Web Development for Business courses by CTeLearning.com. These courses are stackable and enable students to earn a Webprofessionals.org International Industry-Recognized Certification (IIRC). These exams are proctored at the school site to maintain exam integrity and ensure each participant has met all of the minimal requirements to sit for the credential.

Power of Rural STEM and Business Education

Steve Waddell said, “Never underestimate education in the rural parts of the U.S. or the dedicated educators, administrators and students who thrive there. These students here today are gaining world-class credentials from an international professionals association like the WebProfessioanals.org. This is not just another test delivered by a testing company. These students have received an international industry-recognized certification. This shows that high tech, high-demand career education can happen and should happen everywhere. We love being a part of rural STEAM/STEM and business education.”

Industry Recognized Certification Kansas High School Award

“Wherever a student calls home should not restrict their opportunity to discover their passions and talents for these high-demand STEM careers. Only a few short years ago the wisdom of the day was that to work in these types of technology careers you had to leave the rural community and move to suburban or urban spaces. Times have changed, those days are gone, and Jessica’s students are proving that.”

The Path to WebProfessionals.org Certifications

In addition to the Web Development for Business and the Web and Mobile Application Development courses, Ms. Wilson teaches other career and technical education courses, including Business Entrepreneurship and Coding and 3D Video Game Design. This recent success is demonstrating that Haven High is a regional STEM/STEAM/CTE powerhouse.

In these courses, students learned web and app coding, created sites and apps, and built a future-ready portfolio with real-world projects. As of today, they get to add industry credentials they can show college recruiters or future employers.

“As educators we thrive in reaching for what seems to be impossible, especially when it comes to doing what is best for our students and helping them be successful. It is always appreciated to have an administration that helps to support you in these kinds of endeavors. I am very lucky here at Haven and I just want to extend a thank you to Principal Travis Moore, Curriculum Director Marty Niensteadt and our Superintendent Clark Wedel for their ongoing support of this fantastic opportunity. It is with their help and the determination and hard work of my students that we are able to continue the tradition of excellence here at Haven High. As much as I appreciate the recognition, as their teacher none of this would be possible without the work my students put into their learning and their support of one another,” said Jessica Wilson.

Business Education Industry Recognized Certification

The certification earned by the Haven HS students is delivered by WebProfessionals.org, Executive Director Mark DuBois and educational team were key in creating and maintaining the international industry-recognized certifications.

“Many students take the course only for high school credit. Those who want to gain the coveted WebProfessionals.org industry-recognized credential must receive a minimum course grade, meet all project performance requirements, exhibit professionalism in all class activities and receive a recommendation to sit for the exam by their course instructor. Ms. Wilson’s students took the proctored exam at Haven High” said Steve Waddell.

“We welcome the Haven students to the exciting world of web technologies. We are very proud of Ms. Wilson’s students. Haven has an incredibly strong program and we continue to see students succeeding at Haven and earning industry certifications year after year. All of us here at WebProfessionals.org love seeing students take these first important steps towards high-demand STEAM/STEM careers in web and app development,” said Mark DuBois, Executive Director of the WebPrfessionals.org

Congratulations Kansas High School Stackable Industry Recognized Certifications
Courtesy of Haven High School Yearbook

Congratulations for Earning Stackable WebProfessionals.org Certifications

The three Haven High School Students who are the first in the nation to earn their Associate Level Web Developer by stacking certifications from two separate CTeLearning.com courses at Haven HS are:

  • Kelton DeBord: Junior
  • Caleb Fredrickson : Senior
  • Ronnie Voss: Sophomore

The nine newly minted Mobile Application Industry Certification recipients are:

  • Joshua Clodfeldter: Freshman
  • Ethan Earls: Freshman
  • Dakota Fox: Sophomore
  • Z’Hakari Huffman: Sophomore
  • Maverick Lane: Freshman
  • Cole Long: Freshman
  • Nathan Schmidt: Sophomore
  • Holden Schneider: Freshman
  • Cole Zongker: Freshman
Students Receive International Industry Certifications

Congratulations to Jessica Wilson’s 2019 class of industry-recognized certification recipients. We can’t wait to see the class of 2020.

Successful 16th Annual Web Contest

Successful 16th Annual Web Contest

We believe 2019 saw our most successful web design and development competition ever. We held this in Louisville, KY, during the last week of June. Our competition is one of 103 individual competitions at SkillsUSA Nationals. Competitors must win first place in their respective states for the opportunity to compete nationally. We also choose one winner from these competitions to represent the US at WorldSkills. That competition is held every two years (and the next will happen this August in Kazan, Russia).

Our on site team

We are so appreciative of the massive efforts by so many members of Web Professionals to make this competition a reality. We have our team on site for almost an entire week. They conduct the interviews of competitors (and these mimic real interviews as many of the individuals conducting the interviews hire web professionals as part o their daily jobs. They also review the process each team follows as they provide solutions to the business problems posed in our competition work order. They also make certain the server and network environment is running smoothly and that all tams can access their individual server, cloud storage, and editor. This can be a particular challenge when some teams bring school computers which have been so locked down one can not even access the Windows Control Panel. Our team also develops the competition project/ work order and configures the environment before the competition. We are so thankful for all the help and could not do it without you.

Our onsite team of Web Professionals who make certain the competition runs smoothly. All are standing in front of our contest banner and promotional banners.
Our onsite team (from left to right) – Grant, Steve, Mark, Jonathan, Jeff, James, and David.

Our judges

We run two separate competitions (Wednesday is for high school students). We had 52 individuals competing this year. Our Thursday competition is for college students. We had 20 individuals competing this year. When the competition ends each day, we transfer all the work by each team to a secure location on one of our web servers. Judges from other states can then review the work of each team. Our judges are practicing web professionals and we have more than one judge review the work of each team. Each judge focuses on a specific area (such as accessibility). All scores are collected and finalized by the following morning. We could not achieve all this without our off site judges. If you are reading this and would like to help (or would like more information), please contact us. We can always use more judges.

If you are interested in overall comments from our judges, we provided a summary for competitors to review on our separate Web Design Contest site.

The competition environment

For those who would like to learn more about the environment we utilize, we prepared a couple of articles on our Web Design Contest site. These are listed below.

  • An overview of the server environment covers the fundamentals of how the server is configured using containers so that the work of each team is separated and secure.
  • An overview of the network environment covers the fundamentals of how competitors access the local resources. Given the logistics of where the event is held, it is simply not feasible (nor cost effective) to offer actual Internet access to competitors.

Training

Before the competition begins, we offer training to competitors and their advisors the day before (Tuesday). This is our opportunity to make certain everyone has a solid understanding of current industry best practices as they relate to web design and development. It also gives competitors and their advisors the opportunity to ask questions and develop a better understanding of what the competition is all about. In the photo below, Jonathan is discussing process best practices.

Jonathan discussing the overall process practices for web design and development to roughly 100 competitors and their advisors.
Jonathan provided an overview of process best practices to competitors and their advisors.

WorldSkills Competitor

We also had our WorldSkills Web Design and Development competitor (Matt Vreman) speak to competitors and their advisors before the competition began. He discussed his background (he won gold at one of our prior competitions). Matt reviewed his progress as he prepares to compete in Kazan, Russia in August, 2019. I will be accompanying him as his advisor in that competition (each country is allowed to bring in one expert to help their competitor). There will be roughly 50 countries competing in Russia in web design and development.

Matthew Vreman answers questions from competitors and their advisors prior to the start of our competition.
Matthew Vreman (WorldSkills competitor in web design and development) answering questions

Contest Impact

This was our 16th year running a national web design and development competition. A lot has changed in our industry over that time. We like to think that our competition has kept pace with changes in our industry. Over these years, we have had the chance to speak with roughly 2,000 competitors and their advisors/ teachers. We believe that we are making a difference in that competitors and their teachers see what current best practices are and many have adjusted their curriculum accordingly. We see these trends continuing based on the feedback received this year (particularly from advisors). We could not do this without the help of our members; they serve in many roles (including judges and on site team). However, members also provide the funding (through their annual membership dues) to help us achieve our goal of insuring that the next generation of web professionals is following current industry best practices. We couldn’t do this without your support. If you are reading this and have not yet become a member, we encourage you to support us in this endeavor.

Best always,
Mark DuBois
Executive Director and Lead Community Evangelist