KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Nearly 15,000 students. teachers, and business partners are in Kansas City for the SkillsUSA national convention, where students highlight their skills in categories like engineering, culinary arts, automotive, and broadcast journalism.
The SkillsUSA competition is being held at several locations across the area, including Bartle hall, Municipal Auditorium and The American Royal. It is also expected to generate an estimated $15 million to the city.
SkillsUSA is all about providing the skills to make sure the workforce of the future is highly qualified. But it’s also about individual pride.
“They’re the best of the best,” said Scott Norman, director of the automotive section. Over the fifteen years Norman has directed the automotive services technology program at SkillsUSA, he says that he has been pleased with the quality of students that compete from all over the country.
“It’s not all about the actual skills of working on a car but it’s also about leadership, poise, it’s about work ethic,” Norman says. “It’s about everything that makes America great.”
Winning the competition not only grants the winners first prize, it shows that they are among the best in the industry. Josh Bohlman came in second place in the firefighting division earlier this year. He says that he will take what he learned with him for his career.
“If not it’s just the experiences you can get and the contacts and people that you meet and everything like that…that can make it all worth it in the end,” Bohlman said.
Toyota’s CEO James Lentz agrees that SkillsUSA is a win-win situation.
“I expected to see a bunch of really dedicated technicians,” He says, “But the personality that these people have, the confidence they have in themselves, their leadership skills, it’s absolutely phenomenal. This is our future.”
SkillsUSA has been holding their convention right here in Kansas City for the past nineteen years, but they have also grown quite a bit since the beginning. The conference is expected to move after 2014.