By: Dave Sobush, CEcD, Florida Chamber Foundation Director of Research
As if the thermometer doesn’t provide enough proof, it’s officially summer. Across Florida and the US, families are looking to spend time away from home, vacationing in earnest after two years of pandemic-related concerns.
Those traveling by air – many of them traveling to Florida – are dealing with significant flight delays and cancellations, in part due to a lack of flight crew availability. In response to concerns that the industry in general (and his airline in particular) should take the blame for these workforce shortages, Robert Jordan, incoming Southwest Airlines CEO, shared this anecdote at a recent industry forum about a trip he made to a local hamburger stand:
“They are stapling a job application to the sack of food that every single person coming through the drive-thru gets and you go: ‘That’s what it’s come to,'” Jordan said. “It has become, to me, sort of the symbol of the job market that we live in here — there’s so much competition.”
Competition. A powerful word. One that connotes that there will be winners and losers. And here at the Florida Chamber Foundation, we’re taking steps to ensure Florida prevails.
Where we’ve been: The Florida Chamber Foundation undertook research last year to better prepare Florida for the ongoing talent war. In the Florida Workforce Needs Study released in June 2021, we identified high-growth, high-opportunity target career areas of Healthcare, IT/Math, Business/Finance, and Architecture/Engineering. These areas have in common strong growth prospects, high wages, and – unfortunately – shortages of workers compared to demand.
Most importantly, each of these areas offers a wide array of career entry and growth opportunities to support workforce transitions, training, and upskilling/reskilling initiatives.
Where we’re at: Currently, we are in the midst of a two-year research program that will inform the next phase of our workforce research, the Florida Workforce Needs Study 2.0. This study will take a deeper look into particular skills, credentials, and training gaps in the talent pipeline. Working closely with partners at CareerSource Florida, the Florida Department of Education, HR Florida, and others, we’ve deployed a series of surveys to dive deeper, with industry and geographic granularity, to better understand the needs of employers – the demand side – so that Florida’s education and training providers – the supply side – can be better informed as to the talent needs of Florida’s job creators.
The stakes couldn’t be higher.
According to our first survey, 86.9% of responding employers have experienced difficulty recruiting qualified applicants for open positions, citing competition from other employers and a lack of workforce skills as the primary reasons for their troubles. Among the same group of respondents, 85.7% indicated that they plan on hiring in the next year.
These survey results are confirmed by TheFloridaScorecard.org where, at the time of this writing, nearly 500,000 jobs are looking for people, but only 313,000 people are looking for jobs.
Where we’re going: As we shared with the CareerSource Florida Credential Review Committee and our Board of Trustees recently, our current labor market ranks among the tightest – if not the tightest – in decades. Compounding this current challenge is the wide gulf between the expectations of job creators and workers. “Business as usual” will not ameliorate our current status nor will it advance Florida’s economy.
Ultimately, the Florida Workforce Needs Study 2.0 will drive value for Florida businesses by helping them better understand the credentials of value to industry and communicating these to educators, engaging employers to enhance training partnerships to upskill new workers, and increasing awareness of current support initiatives available to upskill incumbent workers.
We invite you to be a part of the research that will inform the Florida Workforce Needs Study 2.0, by participating in the second survey in our study’s survey series, “A Deeper Look Into the Desired Skill Sets and Workforce Development,” HERE>.
Why this matters: At the Foundation, we’re working hard each day to Secure Florida’s Future. By winning the talent war, not only will Florida businesses have the talent they need, but thousands of workers and their families will benefit from jobs with growth potential and transferrable skills. When we do that, we’ll be closer to our Florida 2030 Blueprint big goals of attracting and retaining talent, creating paths to prosperity throughout the state, and growing Florida into a top 10 global economy.
To learn more about the Florida Chamber Foundation’s workforce research, or any of the research we are doing to secure Florida’s future, please feel free to contact me directly at 850-521-1271 or firstname.lastname@example.org.