SkillsUSA has announced that it has chosen John E. McGlade, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Air Products, to be the recipient of the inaugural SkillsUSA CEO Champion of the Year award.

SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit that strives to provide a quality workforce in trade, technical and skilled service occupations with 13,000 chapters in 54 state and territorial associations.

The CEO Champion award will be given each year to recognise the leadership of the Chief Executive of an organisation doing exemplary work in the creation and support of America’s highly skilled workforce.

The award will also recognise CEOs for their corporation’s involvement in promoting and supporting career and technical education.

Under McGlade’s leadership, Air Products has integrated support for SkillsUSA in a number of ways with employees from around the country serving on technical committees for the SkillsUSA Championships, and on task forces and boards of state and local SkillsUSA chapters in California, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Air Products’ employees are active in judging local, state and national student competitions, and with the SkillsUSA Youth Development Foundation. The company provides financial support for SkillsUSA initiatives such as the Professional Development Program, and is helping SkillsUSA build its national network through support of the Alumni & Friends Association.

Yet another form of support from Air Products has been the best practice guidebook developed by employees to help the organisation better forge business/education partnerships with career and technical schools around the country.

“The changing needs of the workforce call for a creative and hands-on approach to ensure that our country has a pipeline of talented employees with the necessary technical skills and work ethic,” said McGlade. “That’s why our support of SkillsUSA is so important. We believe in keeping America’s workforce educated, trained and growing, and that means in all disciplines. SkillsUSA helps us reach toward that goal.”

“John’s passion for SkillsUSA is evident through his and so many Air Products employees’ commitment to the program. His education, career and leadership make him a great role model for career and technical education students,” said Tim Lawrence, executive director of SkillsUSA. “He is proof that today’s young American skilled workforce can be tomorrow’s corporate leaders.”

A native of Bethlehem, Pa., McGlade graduated from Liberty High School and took classes in civil engineering technology at the Bethlehem Area Vocational Technical School during his sophomore, junior and senior years. He is a graduate of Lehigh University in Bethlehem, where he earned a B.S. degree in industrial engineering in 1976 and an M.B.A. in 1980.

McGlade joined Air Products in 1976 in the company’s Career Development Program and held increasingly responsible management positions. He became president and chief operating officer in 2007 and was named chairman of the board in 2008.

The CEO Champion of the Year award ceremony will take place Oct. 18, 2010 in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel in New York.