SkillsUSA Masonry

A participant at the SkillsUSA Championships competes in the masonry event, one of several trade skills on display. | Photo by Jeremy Chisenhall

Louisville is playing host to the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference this week, as the trade, technical and skill services program welcomed people from all over the country to participate in the event and the competitions at the Kentucky Exposition Center.

More than 18,000 students, teachers and business partners are attending the event this week, organizers said. Around 6,450 students are participating in the competitions, according to David Worden, program coordinator for the SkillsUSA Championships. Those contestants are competing for thousands of dollars in tools and equipment.

Worden said that SkillsUSA helps students of trade schools improve their craft and develop “hire-ability” skills.

“We teach the old-fashioned soft skills, the hire-ability skills,” he said. “They learn the technical skills from being in the trade schools and our soft skills program makes them hirable from Day 1. They show up, they work hard, and they show you that they’re not part of the problem, they’re part of the solution.”

Worden said that SkillsUSA brought the event to Louisville on a five-year contract, which they are now in the fourth year of.

“We were here 20 years ago, and the space has grown a lot since then,” Worden said. “We needed a bigger space, bigger venue.”

He also said that they’re already starting to outgrow the space in Louisville. The event will move to Atlanta after the contract expires here, he noted.

The conference started Saturday and will conclude Friday, June 28, with an awards ceremony at 5 p.m. Check out additional photos from the competitions below.