West Central Florida facing a Skills Gap crisis

Bradenton Herald reports despite high area unemployment, a skilled worker shortage means manufacturers can't expand operations


A report in the Bradenton Herald echoes the article in this month’s Plant Engineering magazine on the severity of the Skills Gap issue in manufacturing. Manufacturers in west central Florida are finding the lack of a skilled work force is driving potential manufacturing growth away and harming their ability to improve production.

CareerEdge Funders Collaborative, an employment training agency in the region, told the Bradenton Herald that 56% of manufacturers find a Skills Gap of more than three years. The paper said this has forced manufacturers in the area to back off expansion plans.

"We're talking about a lot of jobs," CareerEdge Executive Director Mireya Eavey told the paper. "We have a lot of work to do. We have a lot of marketing to do. This is a call to manufacturers that we understand their challenge. Now we need their commitment."

The paper reports that despite an unemployment rate of 9.3% in the region and more than 28,000 unemployed workers, there aren’t enough skilled workers to fill the open positions in manufacturing.

"Part of it is the industry has done a bad job of marketing itself as a career path, with parents discouraging their children to seek opportunities," Jennifer Behrens Schmidt, president of Atlantic Mold and Machining Corp., told the paper. "Most of the workers in the field are getting old, they're close to retirement, and there's no replacements lined up."

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to look at this and say we need more manufacturing jobs," said Peter Straw, executive director of the Sarasota Manatee Manufacturers Association. "And the trend will only continue."

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