10 CNM Students Travel to Atlanta to Compete in 2023 SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference

The CNM students will join thousands of others during a week of competition that’s designed to help train the nation’s next generation of skilled workers
June 20, 2023

There are currently three million open trades positions in the United States. With that job gap in mind the 2023 SkillsUSA National Skills and Leadership Conference (NLSC) in Atlanta, Georgia aptly decided to make “Our Time is Now” the theme for this year’s conference.  

“There has never been a better time to be skilled,” says SkillsUSA Public Relations and Communications Coordinator Karen Kitzel. “The skilled trades offer some of the most high-paying and in-demand jobs available today. The skills we represent are the skills that have always been essential to our nation. Artificial intelligence can’t build a building, install a furnace, repair a bridge, or remodel a home. Only tradespeople can do these things.” 

This year, just over 6,000 students from across the country will be participating in the competition, including 10 from CNM. These students will compete in a wide variety of skilled trade competitions throughout the week—from cabinet making to welding fabrication. 

“It means a lot to me to compete and represent New Mexico at the national level,” says CNM student and diesel equipment technology contestant Zack Green. “I’ve worked really hard to get to this level, and I’m excited to compete and to see the huge number of trades represented here.”

Zack’s advisor and CNM Diesel Equipment Technology instructor, Eric Worthen, shares the same sentiment. 

“It’s great to see the level of industry involvement at this event,” Eric says. “Having companies on-site that I know my students hope to work for supporting them in their education and competitions is a feeling you can’t beat.” 

In addition to participating in the skills competition, all the CNM students and event competitors also get to attend TECHSPO, the nation’s largest technical trade show with more than 150 exhibitors, as well as SkillsUSA University and the Academy of Excellence, which feature seminars and workshops for students and instructors. 

Both TECHSPO and the SkillsUSA University are designed to connect students with industry representatives so they can explore various pathways to employment while still in school.   

“Students really enjoy the tradeshow because they get to meet people in fields they’re interested in and try out their skills,” Kitzel says. “TECHSPO is where education and industry really come together.” 

On Friday some 1,200 gold, silver, and bronze medals will be awarded to winning participants in addition to scholarships and other industry-specific awards. Kitzel says all students will walk away with a strong sense of achievement and she hopes they also fly home with increased knowledge of their trade, long-lasting industry connections, and a bright outlook on their future in the trades.

“When business and industry partners come to the NLSC and meet SkillsUSA students, they have hope for the future because they are meeting America’s best and brightest career-minded individuals who are ready to learn, ready to be hired, and ready to succeed,” Kitzel says. “The skills gap is real and there are millions of skilled trade positions available and not enough skilled professionals to fill them. SkillsUSA is a solution to the skills gap and continually proves to be a verified talent pipeline.”