Hodges University, FGCU and Edison State College present the first Workforce Now Research Report

Hodges University News

Workforce Now is a regional research initiative to identify current and future talent requirements for the five counties of Southwest Florida. The initiative was created in October 2012 as an outcome of the Education Summit produced by The News-Press Media Group. It is envisioned as a systematic, strategic multi-year focus on understanding and meeting critical workforce needs. 

The quality of the regional workforce is a primary competitive factor in the region’s ability to grow and prosper in a competitive global marketplace. The Workforce Now initiative is designed to provide better information on workforce gaps including skills and characteristics desired by regional employers. The plan is to deeply study industries or sectors each year to provide a continuous stream of information from employers to educational institutions, and to look for ways to create dialogue and new partnerships between businesses and educational institutions.

This report is a summary of the information gained from a 17-question survey and interviews of three large established employers in Southwest Florida. Each company told its story of workforce gaps and needs today and what it forecasts for the next five years at a Workforce Now Forum held on February 4, 2013:

  • Arthrex, a medical device and supply company which designs and manufactures innovative surgical devices and implants to help surgeons treat their patients better and advance minimally invasive orthopedics;
  • Chico’s FAS, a vertically-integrated women’s fashion specialty retailer that manages four brands including Chico’s, White House Black Market, Soma, and Boston Proper; and
  • Lee Memorial Health System (LMHS), an integrated health system consisting of four acute care, a children's and rehabilitation hospital. LMHS provides services through physician offices, outpatient facilities, a regional cancer center, a skilled nursing facility and home health agency and is the fifth largest non-tax supported health system in the United States.

Some common study findings across the three organizations were identified:

  1. The organizations have to recruit from outside the region to fill critical positions;
  2. It is expensive to recruit from outside the region given the travel and relocation costs. Each of the organizations expressed a desire to work more closely with the region’s educational institutions;
  3. Many of the recruits from outside the region have “trailing” spouses. This makes it difficult to recruit a prospective employee if there are no positions available for the spouse;
  4. Each organization offers in-house training and internships. Some are offering in-house training, residencies, or apprenticeships as a way to close the critical employment gaps:
  5. The companies want to work more closely with the educational systems and institutions to develop the needed workforce and skills. There is a sense of urgency and impatience;
  6. There is a desire to help students at a young age see the benefits of learning science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM);
  7. All three organizations identified their culture as requiring employees to be able to operate at a very fast speed or pace. Bringing new products or services to market before the competition does provides a competitive advantage;
  8. Arthrex and Lee Memorial Health System are highly-regulated organizations and employees with a knowledge of FDA, ISO 9000, H.I.P.P.A, clinical licensure health regulations, and quality assurance are highly desirable;
  9. A common theme was the need for supply-chain management knowledge and experience;
  10. The general feeling is that technology is driving change in each organization and each will need employees with basic business knowledge that can adapt to change;
  11. Information technology positions were identified as one of the top employment gaps. Arthrex needs IT Business Analysts with experience in a wide range of applications, including those provided by Oracle and SAP. Chico’s needs business analysts and Infrastructure Technicians with certifications in applications provided by Microsoft, Oracle, and Cisco. Lee Memorial Health System has a critical need for Business System Analysts with knowledge of Microsoft Project and Office, electronic medical record systems (EPIC), and business, financial and clinical systems building and interface knowledge.
  12. The common workforce skills that needed strengthening include:
    • Active listening
    • Critical thinking
    • Interpersonal skills
    • Teamwork
    • Problem solving
    • Reading comprehension
    • Finance and basic business mathematics

Nineteen critical positions that companies are having difficulty filling are described in the report, which includes an appendix with job descriptions provided by the companies.

The second Workforce Now Forum was held on March 19, 2013. This next phase obtained workforce information on three key business sectors of the Southwest Florida economy: finance/insurance/banking, construction/manufacturing, and tourism. This information will be used to develop a second report describing the three business sectors. These two initial studies will set the stage for the future research plan. The research group plans to survey educational leaders over the next few months to refine the research design.

This is a new Southwest Florida workforce research initiative that has brought together professors from three of the largest regional higher educational institutions to better understand employer workforce requirements.

Click here to view the report.

For more information about the research or the report:
Aysegul Timur, Program Chair, Business Administration & Public Administration, Johnson School of Business, Hodges University, atimur@hodges.edu, 239-513- 1122

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