Targeting Training to Talent Needs
Northwest Florida (NWFL) is developing implementation programs for strategic plan goals established by the Florida Forward Strategic Plan. The TALENT the goal is to “Connect the talent assets of Northwest Florida to key industry cluster and ensure a dynamic and diverse workforce for new and growing businesses.” The disciplines to support the strategic clusters have been defined as advanced manufacturing, health science, cyber, aviation, logistics, engineering, natural resource products, and supply chain.
The strategic plan process formed a “Talent Committee” to define implementable actions. In one of its first actions, this committee, demonstrating true regional collaboration, compiled an inventory of relevant courses, who is offering them, and the available training slots. Included were K12, post high school, and trade training institutions. This blog only addresses the post high school and trade training resources. The conclusions were developed by drawing upon the internally published work of the Talent Committee for use to establish a benchmark from which progress can be measured as well as to establish the current state of talent development.
My conclusions from this research are:
- Current training resources for engineering is lagging and, in some cases, almost nonexistent (Chart 1). Creating higher paying skilled jobs and build advanced technology industries will require establishing engineering training as a priority.
- Understandably, training resources for traditional liberal arts is over supplied except for nursing (Chart 2).
- Following national trends, training resources for trades are woefully lacking (Chart 3) even though trade wages are comparable to the traditional disciplines.
- NWFL’s top programs are generally in sync with Florida’s top demand (Chart 4).
The goal of NWFL is to create higher paying skilled jobs. Looking at the need in the region for engineers, the training network in NWFL falls short. These jobs average $77,000 a year. Only aviation engineering training exceeds regional demand. Electrical engineers are being trained but also below the needed level. Other engineering disciple training compared to demand is almost absent (Chart 1).
Let’s look at the alignment with demand in NWFL. For reference, the top 25 training disciples account for 83% of the students, the top 10 account for 57%, and the top 5 account for 35%. Looking at the top 5 only, four training disciplines exceed the job demand from 116% to 800%. Only Nursing is below the job demand at 52%.
How well is NWFL meeting the demand for trades? In general, it is not! It exceeds the demand for welders (as a job opening), potentially meets 45% of the demand for automotive technicians, but falls well short of the demand for electrician, HVAC, and plumber. The average annual salary for these trades is comparable to the average annual salary of the Top 5 training disciplines.
Let’s examine the alignment of students being educated in NWFL in the top 10 specific disciplines as defined by the regional inventory as compared to the demand those same skills in the Florida top 10 specific disciplines as defined by the regional inventory. Five of the top 10 in NWFL are in the top 10 of Florida; which is a reasonable alignment.