LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Some of the smartest and talented students from around the country are in Louisville for the SkillsUSA Conference. Each time these visitors come to WAVE Country, they leave a huge economic imprint on the city.
It's the 54th year for the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference which is returning to the Kentucky Expo Center June 24 to 29. The convention is the world's largest showcase of skilled trades, career and technical education.
More than 18,000 students, teachers, education leaders and representatives from 600 national corporations, trade associations, business, and labor unions will be at the event this week. Organizers say the week long conference has an economic impact of $26.2 million dollars to the area.
An additional 3,000 people are expected to attend the conference this year filling more than 40 hotels in Louisville and Southern Indiana.
SkillsUSA's Executive Director Tim Lawrence along with two students stopped by WAVE 3 News Weekend Sunrise on Sunday to talk about the event.
"We define SkillsUSA as a partnership students, teachers, and industry working together to ensure that America has a skilled workforce," Lawrence said. "Part of the magic of SkillsUSA is the connection to business and industry. In fact, there are 600 companies supporting us here from 3M to Caterpillar. The best American companies are here to support these students because they need this talent in their pipeline. The Skills gap is real, 650,000 open jobs without the people to fill them in this country right now."
"Through SkillsUSA. I was able to not only learn the technical skills I need but, also the personal skills I need to be a well-rounded worker in America's workforce," student Laila Mirza said.
In 2016, SkillsUSA announced that the convention is moving to Atlanta in 2021. Organizers cite a lack of hotel space around the Expo Center and transportation back and forth from the area hotels as the reason for the move. The Omni in downtown Louisville has helped but, Lawrence said it's not enough.
While here, folks involved with SkillsUSA give back to the local community through volunteer service projects.
SkillsUSA Championships is free and open to the public Wednesday, June 27 and Thursday, June 28 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Parking is $8 per car, $20 per bus.