Regional Workforce Initiatives
Southwest Florida offers a number of workforce training and initiatives including:
- The CareerSource provides no-cost employment and training services to employers and job seekers in Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee Counties. As a work-first initiative, Southwest Florida Works connects employers and job seekers through an online job matching system called Employ Florida Marketplace.
- Workforce Now is an ongoing regional research initiative to identify current and future workforce talent requirements for the five counties of Southwest Florida. Initially sparked by the Education Summits produced by The News-Press Media Group in the early 2010s, it is chaired by Southwest Florida Community Foundation CEO Sarah Owen.
- The research plan for next year includes a study of supply chain and logistics positions across a wide range of Southwest Florida companies and provide an overview of employment gaps and future occupational growth.
- Links to our studies, including to the annually updated Workforce Overview, can be found here.
Key Workforce Now findings:
- Organizations often have to recruit from outside the region to find the specific skills needed to fill critical positions. This is more expensive and spouses often have difficulty finding employment or adjusting to the region.
- Some common regional educational requirements/occupational needs across included information technology (IT), supply-chain management, and business analysts.
- The common foundational workforce skills that needed strengthening include active listening, critical thinking, finance and basic business mathematics, interpersonal skills, problem solving, reading comprehension, and teamwork.
- Social media, mobile computing, information technology applications, and related technologies have changed most occupations, severely reducing demand for some (such as bank tellers) and increasing demand for others (such as HVAC installers).
- Educational providers recognize the need to provide programs to help train for current and future workforce needs but often face significant obstacles such as lack of funding or reliable and timely data to drive decisions.
- The regional economy is growing and dynamic and will require a different mix of occupations and skills. Some key points: the average annual wage was $38,852 in 2014; the fastest growth industries between 2014 and 2022 are projected to be construction, health care and social assistance, retail trade, accommodations and food services, and self-employed and unpaid family workers. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity identified 3,372 current employment gap positions for Southwest Florida, signifying a decline of one-third (or 1,638 positions) from the figure reported in the Workforce Overview Study for 2014.
- Researchers: Dr. Christopher Westley and Mr. John M. Shannon, Florida Gulf Coast University; Dr. John Meyer, Florida SouthWestern State College; and Dr. Aysegul Timur, Hodges University.
The Horizon Council is Lee County’s private/public economic development partnership. The Workforce Task Force is focused on three primary objectives:
- Developing a newcomer integration resource guide for the region
- Compiling a digital education/workforce resource guide for the region
- Identifying components of a foundational skills training/certification that would be valued by hiring businesses