Southwest Florida study identifies gaps in workforce education

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Across industry sectors, Southwest Florida’s largest employers share many of the same challenges in hiring workers, according to a research report just released regarding gaps in the local workforce.

The report, developed by Workforce Now, focused on three companies: Arthrex, a Naples medical device manufacturer; Chico’s FAS Inc., a Ft. Myers women’s retailer; and Lee Memorial Health System, a public health system with four acute care hospitals and two specialty hospitals.

While all of these business report offering in-house training and internships for students, there remain gaps in education between their needs and the local workforce.

As reported in Naples News, the study found that for each of these companies one of the greatest unmet needs was for business analysts who specialize in information technology.

Other needs identified include “supply-chain management knowledge and experience; the ability to operate at a fast speed to bring new products and services to market; basic business knowledge that can adapt to change, and knowledge of quality assurance standards and federal regulations, such as those spelled out in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act in the case of Lee Memorial.”

In more broad terms, the report found that the workforce needs greater strength on basic skills such as active listening, interpersonal skills, problem-solving, reading comprehension, and basic business math.

Arthrex is struggling to fill jobs for machine operators and quality assurance engineers; Chico’sneeds merchandise planners, designers and merchants; and Lee Memorial is most driven to hire physicians, physician assistants and nurses.

Workforce Now, created at the end of 2012 as a result of an Education Summit held by the News-Press Media Group in Ft. Myers, raised $75,000 from 11 investors to launch this research initiative. Another report is set to be released later this month regarding finance, insurance and banking, and construction and manufacturing.