International Training Institute, Skills USA partner to promote labor

National competition brings talent to Kansas City, awareness of sheet metal union

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Skills USA’s 47th annual National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC) returns to Kansas City, Mo. June 19-24 with a new partner in hand – the International Training Institute (ITI), the education arm of the unionized sheet metal industry. The championships, which consist of more than 5,500 young adults from across the country, will take place on June 23. At least 3,000 of those students are directly related to the building trades.

This year marks the first time ITI will co-sponsor the welding competition in order to raise awareness of the secondary education and career training the unionized sheet metal and air conditioning industry can provide. The partnership between Skills USA and ITI allows for the exchange of information, so schools with Skills USA programs can reach out to the professional community for mentorship, expertise and guidance while ITI can recruit from a talent pool that already understands and practices leadership skills. The partnership also will eventually allow Skills USA to track their graduates through the sheet metal industry and check on their progress.

“Skills USA teaches the skills we are looking for, and it’s not just welding,” said Larry Lawrence, instructional development specialist with ITI. “It’s a win-win for both sides. Students come out of Skills USA with the leadership skills, a working knowledge and their safety training.”

As a result of the economy, recruitment has been difficult, Lawrence said. Through the partnership with Skills USA, ITI will be able to recruit apprentices like college campuses recruit student athletes.

“Right now, we don’t know who we’re getting until they arrive,” he added. “We can get someone from a technical academy who has hands-on talent but no leadership skills. Or we can get someone who went to college and can’t apply what they’ve learned. In the Skills USA instance, most of their programs are industry-driven programs, and they have experts who advise the students, so we get the best of both worlds.”

More than 15,000 apprentices are registered at training facilities in theUnited States and Canada. The ITI is jointly sponsored by Sheet Metal Worker’s International Association (SMWIA) and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA). ITI supports apprenticeship and advanced career training for union workers in the sheet metal industry throughout theUnited StatesandCanada. Located in Alexandria,Va., ITI produces a standardized sheet metal curriculum supported by a wide variety of training materials free of charge to sheet metal apprentices and journeymen.

For more information about  ITI, visit or call 703-739-7200.

Events for this year’s conference will take place at the H. Roe Bartle Conference Center, the American Royal/Kemper Arena, the Municipal Auditorium and The Marriott, Phillips andCrownePlaza.

For additional information about the Skills USA’s National Leadership and Skills Conference, visit

47th annual National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC), building trades, Construction, Kansas City, leadership, Missouri, Recruiting, Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Industry, unionized sheet metal and air conditioning industry
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