Monday, November 21, 2011

Economic symposium

Contributed by Catalyst Intern Bryan Kapin

On October 26, 2011 business professionals and non-profit owners gathered in the Broward Convention Center to attend the Southeast Florida Economic Symposium. These leaders discussed the current state of South Florida’s economy and the trends along with the developments that are defining our region. With our current demographics becoming more diverse than ever, we are faced with many new challenges as well as many new opportunities. Due to cultural barriers, many businesses are having difficulty building partnerships with certain communities. This creates an opportunity for individuals to present themselves to both big and small South Florida businesses as potential employees with the ability to overcome the ethnic barriers that currently exist. Individuals must take advantage of their cultural diversity and prove to businesses that they can be a valuable asset in reaching broader communities and help facilitate relations within these communities.

Another important topic that was brought up was the lack of “skilled” workers in South Florida. A market exists for certain skill-sets that individuals just are not pursuing. For example, one business owner discussed his need for 30 new employees with technical and computer skills. However, during his search, he was only able to find two eligible candidates in South Florida. Although he wanted to hire locally, workers with the required skill-set were simply not available. This led him to outsource these positions to other countries in South America. South Florida is already suffering from a poor job market and in this instance, we lost 30 potential job positions for the simple reason that no qualified workers presented themselves. This scenario highlighted one of the most important lessons to take from this symposium- start training early. Higher education and university degrees are not for everyone. Thousands of South Floridians will not pursue higher education after graduating high school. In order to improve their chances of acquiring a steady job post-graduation they must begin focusing and training in a particular field early on in their high school career. By equipping themselves with the skills needed in a particular field, they become exponentially more appealing to potential employers not just in South Florida, but nationwide.

South Florida is actively trying to attract larger businesses to come here and provide more jobs, but it is up to those seeking employment in South Florida to adapt to the job market in order to meet the needs of these potential employers. It is important to note that although we are in the midst of a poor economy, the need for skilled workers still exists.

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