Students pour into KC for SkillsUSA national championship - KCTV5

Students pour into KC for SkillsUSA national championship

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Thousands of the country's top students will pour into the metro this week for one of the biggest leadership and skills conferences in America.

SkillsUSA gives high schoolers and post-secondary students the chance to compete in many different skilled trade jobs like construction, robotics and technology, just to name a few.

It is one of Kansas City's largest conferences, but the city will soon say goodbye to the group because the competition has outgrown the metro.

It is a definite challenge that has motivated talks about expanding hotel and convention space downtown.

When you look around from Barney Allis Plaza near Bartle Hall, all one sees are hotels. But it is still not enough for SkillsUSA.

Isabel Soto, past national officer for SkillsUSA, says the conference isn't only a competition; it is a recruitment tool for 98 niche industries.

"Skilled trade is very hard to find. Right now, the problem is not necessarily there are no jobs available. There are not employees to fill the skill sets that are required," Soto said.

And with the job demand that comes with such industries like welding or carpentry, SkillsUSA has grown 100 percent since it came to Kansas City 20 years ago.

"We spend over 30,000 nights as a conference in Kansas City for the week that we're here," Soto said.

That totals $16 million left in Kansas City - money that won't be coming to the metro after 2014.

The conference and its 16,000 person group has run out of hotel space.

"Hopefully that will be a Clarion call for us to say, 'Let's step into action and try to preserve what we have left and build upon what we can,'" said Rick Hughes with the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Bureau.

SkillsUSA is the third big conference to announce its departure following Walmart and Sam's.

"There are things the city has to really find its way through on some of that infrastructure. We'll present it to them and hopefully we'll win them back," Hughes said.

The competition will move to Louisville, KY, in 2015 after celebrating the organization's 50th anniversary in its 20 year-old home of Kansas City.

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