Chamber FoundationEconomic DevelopmentNewsWorkforce Development

Florida Chamber Foundation’s New Lakeland Metro Skills Report Identifies and Evaluates Workforce Skills Gaps in the Lakeland-Winter Haven MSA, where 86,771 Net New Jobs Need to be Created by 2030

Education/Curation/Library Services, Healthcare, Business/Finance, and IT/Math, are four of Lakeland-Winter Haven MSA’s in-demand career areas facing significant skills gaps

As Florida’s economy continues to grow and diversify, talent is key. Florida currently has more jobs looking for people than people looking for jobs. Solving our future talent needs now is the right path. In Florida, we have 528,300 open jobs looking for people and only 523,000 Floridians actively looking for jobs. Future economic development and diversification depends on matching the right skills with the right job opportunities. Targeting workforce development to regional skills gaps in high wage potential in the Lakeland-Winter Haven region— consisting of Polk County— the Florida Chamber Foundation has unveiled its Lakeland Metro Skills Report, which completes and evaluates the balance between skillset supply and demand in the Lakeland metro market.

“Employers in the Lakeland-Winter Haven region need to create approximately 86,771 net new jobs by 2030 to prepare for the region’s future growth and opportunity,” said Florida Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Mark Wilson. “As the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Florida 2030 Blueprint works to grow Florida from the 15th largest to the 10th largest economy in the world by 2030, Florida’s workforce needs to continue evolving to meet the needs of the future of Florida and its job creators.”

In June, the Florida Chamber Foundation unveiled the Florida Workforce Needs Study – a first-of-its-kind state analysis addressing skills gaps and opportunities that exist in the Florida workplace, providing a comprehensive look at the skills Floridians need in order to have upward or even lateral mobility in over-skilled occupations, and potentially transition to in-demand occupations that have more demand than supply as well as higher wages. The Lakeland Metro Skills Report is a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)- specific breakout report of the Florida Workforce Needs Study created so Lakeland-Winter Haven workers and stakeholders can understand the competencies and skills that align with the active and unmet demand of the region’s job creators.

“It is essential for Florida’s education system to understand and teach toward the in-demand and emerging skillsets of Florida’s economy,” said Florida Department of Education’s Henry Mack, Chancellor for Workforce Education. “The Florida Chamber Foundation’s Florida Workforce Needs Study helps us understand the competencies and skills that align with Florida’s job creators, which helps in the creation of educational opportunities to best prepare Floridians for higher, life and family sustaining wages. This matters for everyone’s future economic and professional wellbeing.”

Four of the in-demand career areas demonstrating significant supply shortages in comparison to demand in the Lakeland metro include Education/Curation/Library Services, Healthcare, Business/Finance, and IT/Math. Additionally, the Lakeland Metro Skills Report Identifies:

  • Lakeland-Winter Haven Supply and Demand by Career Area, with Median Posted Salary
  • Lakeland-Winter Haven Top Competency Gaps in Target Career Areas
  • Key Hard-to-Find Skills in Lakeland-Winter Haven, by Career Area

“Like most of Florida, Polk County’s current workforce possesses skill competencies that are unbalanced with the demand of employers,” said Greater Winter Haven Chamber President/CEO Katie Worthington Decker. “The research conducted by the Florida Chamber Foundation is essential to preparing Polk County’s current and future workforce for the evolving skillset demands of today’s jobs and the 2 million jobs Florida needs to create by 2030.”

The education, curation and library services skill competency has the largest skills gap between estimated supply and estimated demand in the Lakeland metro with a gap of -16,087, followed by healthcare with a gap of -9,929, and then business and finance with a gap of -9,626.

When it comes to skills competencies in the Lakeland metro with more estimated supply than estimated demand, hospitality, recreation, and personal services leads the region with a gap of 19,380, followed by transportation and warehousing with a gap of 4,197 and then production and manufacturing with a gap of 1,258.

The Florida Chamber Foundation thanks the local Chambers of Commerce and key industry trade association partners statewide and in the Lakeland metro for engaging area employers in its important, future-oriented research.

“CareerSource Florida is honored to join with the Florida Chamber Foundation and other vital talent pipeline partners to ensure at least 80 percent of Florida’s workforce has essential employability skills by 2030 to support career pathway opportunities and help families and communities prosper,” said CareerSource Florida President and CEO Michelle Dennard. “We are grateful for the innovative leadership of our local workforce development board partners in this region who connect Floridians with the latest in education and workforce training to meet the skills needs of so many employers right now and into the constantly evolving future, a vital component of achieving that goal.”

To view results of the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Florida Workforce Needs Study and Lakeland Metro Skills Report, visit


About the Florida Chamber Foundation

The Florida Chamber Foundation is a statewide, business-led, non-partisan research and future-oriented leadership group working in partnership with regional and state leaders to secure Florida’s future. To ensure global competitiveness, prosperity, high paying jobs and vibrant and resilient communities for all Floridians, the Florida Chamber Foundation places the long-term ahead of the short term by uniting the Florida business community for good to develop strategies around six key factors, the Florida 2030 Blueprint Six Pillars of Florida’s Future Economy: improving Florida’s talent pipeline for a better workforce, creating good jobs by diversifying Florida’s economy, preparing Florida’s infrastructure for smart growth and development, building the perfect climate for business, making government and civics more efficient and effective, and championing Florida’s quality of life.

The Florida Chamber Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Contributions are deductible as charitable gifts for federal income tax. To learn more about the Florida Chamber Foundation, visit


Back to top button