Snapshot of Florida Manufacturers’ Survey

The Florida TRADE (Training Resources for Accelerated Degrees and Employment) Consortium is a group comprised of 12 state and community colleges in Florida and funded through a $15 million Department of Labor TAACCCT grant. The program’s mission is to develop develop/deliver accelerated training programs that allow participants to: Upgrade current skills and knowledge; Learn new skills; Gain industry-recognized technical certifications; Earn academic credits toward college degrees, and Procure employment. The program works with displaced workers who have lost their jobs due to foreign trade, unemployed workers, incumbent workers looking to upgrade their current skills, or learn new skills, students and returning veterans who are looking to transition back into the workforce.

In keeping with its mission and design programs that cater to the needs and skills set requirement of its stakeholders, Florida TRADE recently conducted a skills analysis survey of   companies throughout Florida. Outlined are highlights from the survey.

A total of 122 companies were surveyed. A majority of the companies were located in Northeast and central Florida, and employed an average of 250-500 employees. The survey was sponsored by the Gates Foundation and was modeled after the Gates Scaled Model for Certificate Delivery. The survey did not include companies in Northwest Florida because they were conducting their own regional survey.

More than 60% of the total surveyed companies stated they had difficulty finding skilled workers leading to
higher costs, limiting long-term growth, lost revenues, and competitive threats. To address the skills gap, out of the 115 that responded, close to 90% stated they were offering in-house training for current and new employees, with 40% of participants providing financial assistance to current employees. Approximately same percentage of manufacturers also agreed providing training to employees influenced worker retention.

In terms of skills shortage, companies found it most difficult to find CNC machinists/operators, CNC programmers and employees skilled in instrumentation and automation, programmable logic controllers, production technician, welding, and electrical technician. Also very difficult to find were: shipfitters, molding experience, aviation/aerospace assemblers, programmers, electricians, degreed Electrical Engineers, maintenance people, sewing, gel coat sprayers and fine-line taping, press brake operators. Easiest to find were quality testers, production technicians, and quality inspectors.

Of the 109 companies that responded, close to 80% often relied on referrals and networking to find skilled
workers. Given the importance vested on industry certifications, companies valued the AWS Certified Welder certificate the most followed by ASQ Certified Quality & Inspectors and OSHA 30. “If there were more people with certifications, I would require it more. What certifications do is verify competency prior to employment” commented one of the participants.

For more information on the survey, data captured and results visit http://fltrade.org. To learn about industry certifications and the industry validated A.S. degree in engineering technology contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org, or visit the industry certification link on the FLATE website and on www.madeinflorida.org.