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Southwest Florida Top Employers are Driving Jobs for Skilled Workers


Automation, social media, artificial intelligence, mobile computing, robots, information technology applications, and related technologies have changed most occupations, driving jobs out of some industries (e.g., bank tellers) and severely changing the skill set requirements to enter today’s workforce. Jobs are changing much faster than economic development professionals could have predicted.

According to employer comments in the Executive Business Climate Survey Report, Second Quarter, 2018, prepared by The Regional Economic Research Institute at Florida Gulf Coast University in partnership with Horizon Council, the demand for highly skilled workers is growing and jobs openings are going unfilled.

Site selectors are challenged to seek out suitable communities with forward-thinking programs to build a labor pool with skills that match the needs of employers. Community leaders in Southwest Florida are taking action to influence the readiness of the local workforce.


Southwest Florida Manufacturing Excellence Center

Local manufacturers including Arthrex, Pelican Wire and Azimuth are partnering with schools and the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce to create the Southwest Florida Manufacturing Excellence Center. Their goal is to train more than 150 students per year to build skills necessary to work in a manufacturing environment.

In the program, students will work on equipment to learn how to shape metal and how to use computer-programmed machines.  Machine control systems are similar across various industries so the machinist training skills acquired by students will be transportable from one manufacturing job to another.

The manufacturing sector of Collier County’s economy is growing and creating demand for more skilled workers. According to a report in the Naples Daily News, the Florida Chamber Foundation estimates that Collier County will need to add approximately 15,000 jobs by 2020. No doubt, many of them are high-wage, high-tech, non-seasonal career opportunities.

For example, Arthrex, which specializes in the design, development and manufacturing of medical devices for minimally invasive orthopedic surgery is in process of expanding their Naples headquarters and plans to create 560 more jobs by 2021. In addition, Arthrex is expanding into Ave Maria, Florida with 218,000 square feet of manufacturing facility space and is expected to create more than 350 jobs.

With an existing operation already in Lee County, Florida, the business investments made by Arthrex represent a truly regional approach to employment and operations. Site selectors representing clients seeking synergies with medical device research and manufacturing should arrange to explore options in Southwest Florida.


Private-Public Partnerships Forge Job Skills Training

Another organization working hard to build the pipeline of skilled labor for employers in Southwest Florida is Hodges University, with campuses in both Fort Myers and Naples. Major regional employers such as Chico’s FAS and Lee Health have partnered with the public schools, local foundations and Hodges University to development curriculum to prepare individuals with the knowledge and skills to be successful in the modern workplace.

The Professional Effectiveness Certificate (PEC) program is fully customizable based upon the specific needs of an employer so any company that wants to expand their workforce or relocate their workforce to Southwest Florida can rely upon the PEC program to complement their internal employee training and development programs.

Another valuable channel is CareerSource Southwest Florida which provides no-cost employment and training services to employers and job seekers in Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee Counties. CareerSource partners with employers who are driving jobs growth to find qualified employees by way of free assistance with recruitment, applicant pre-screening, software assessments, job fairs, private interviewing and employee training facilities.


Driving Jobs for Skilled Workers in Southwest Florida

Southwest Florida Employment by Industry continues to shift over time as more companies relocate to or expand their footprint in the region. Site selectors can see that the investment is being made to enhance the education and training infrastructure to produce a skilled workforce.  This effort will not only help satisfy current demand to fill manufacturing and technical jobs but potentially attract other companies who fit naturally into the Southwest Florida work hard, play hard setting such as boat manufacturing, marine electronics, boat rigging, naval architecture, marine design and engineering and more. Contact the Southwest Florida Economic Development Alliance for more information and arrange a site visit.