Hillsborough-Pinellas Manufacturing Gap Analysis

According to a recent study conducted by the Hillsborough and Pinellas counties’ leading economic and workforce development organizations, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties are home to 2,074 manufacturers, representing 50,803 employees. Manufacturing employees have a total income contribution of almost $9 billion to the local economy, and each manufacturing job created results in the creation of an additional 2.65 jobs. The study states the economic recovery is leading manufacturers to increase production, but they are facing challenges in hiring qualified workers for critical positions. Almost 40% of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties’ manufacturers say that the skills gap is limiting business growth.

To take a closer look into the situation, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties’ economic and workforce
development organizations recently conducted a comprehensive skill set needs assessment for Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties. The report was published in August 2013, and was sponsored by Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, Pinellas County Economic Development, Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance, WorkNet Pinellas, Tampa Bay Partnership and Florida High-Tech Corridor. The Hillsborough-Pinellas Manufacturing Gap Analysis was targeted to quantify the areas’ difficult to fill manufacturing skills set. In total, 107 skill sets across 16 job type categories were surveyed. There were 109 responding companies, representing 14,715 employees, or 28.9% of the entire manufacturing employee population in the two county area.

Data from the analysis showed an increasing shift from traditional manufacturing methods to more advanced methods. The highest 12-month vacancies were for production solderers, which work predominately in the areas component manufacturers. CNC machining positions were ranked as having the second and fourth highest vacancies, underscoring the shift from traditional to advanced methods. Maintenance mechanics had the third highest 12-month vacancies. Mig and Tig welders were tied as having the fifth highest 12-month vacancies.

Based on the interviews, the organizations determined three action areas and possible solutions, where they believed they could make an impact to improve the manufacturing talent pipeline.

Areas for improvement included:
1. A lack of interest in manufacturing is causing a shortage of skilled workers.
2. Workers lack knowledge of industry.
3. There needs to be a greater connection between industry and education.

1. Organize manufacturing job opportunities public relations campaign.
2. Increase internship and apprenticeship offerings.
3. Improve coordination between industry, education, and government.

The study also points to valuable resources and possible partnership opportunities manufacturers can avail of
in the area to address the skills gap. Among these, FLATE the National Science Foundation Center of Excellence at Hillsborough Community College (HCC) was named as the go to organization for manufacturing and advanced technical education. FLATE developed and continues to support the comprehensive Engineering Technology associate of science degree and certificate programs offered at HCC, St. Petersburg College and 14 community & state colleges in Florida. These programs offer training in many of the high vacancy jobs identified in the survey that include machining, electronics, and quality.

For detailed information on core courses and certificates offered by the A.S. degree in engineering technology visit FLATE’s “Made in Florida” site. The site is part of FLATE’s statewide outreach campaign aimed at changing community perceptions about manufacturing, and recruit students into high-tech, high- wage STEM career pathways that support manufacturing. For information on current skills gap in the region read the Tampa-Hillsborough EDC detailed report.

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