Study Shows 62 Percent of SW Florida Companies Outsource at Least Some IT Functions

  • Friday, October 31, 2014 8:20 AM
    Message # 3137957
    Deleted user
    The improving economy hasn't closed the gap between Southwest Florida employers with open jobs and the workers they need, especially in growing information technology fields, according to Workforce Now studies released Wednesday.

    Southwest Florida employers are struggling to fill about 5,000 jobs, including everything from retail sales supervisors to speech pathologists, even as unemployment has returned to about 6 percent in the region, less than half of what it was at the height of the recession.

    "When we dig below those numbers, there is still work to be done," said Mei-Mei Chan, president and publisher of The News-Press Media Group and organizer of the Workforce Now initiative.

    The five-county Workforce Now effort is a collaboration between FGCU, Florida SouthWestern State College and Hodges University, and was created as a result of the Education Summits produced by The News-Press Media Group.

    Disconnects in the workforce are an issue that everyone should be concerned about, said Brent Kettler, business intelligence manager for the Lee County Economic Development Office.

    "You can have all the pretty trees and all the perfect beaches in the world, but if you don't have the right workforce, businesses aren't going to come here and businesses aren't going to grow here," Kettler said.

    About a third of businesses surveyed said they had difficulty filling vacant information technology jobs.

    Of those employers hiring IT jobs, 54 percent said computer programmers were the hardest to find, according to Workforce Now research.

    However, the positions forecast to grow the most through 2020 were networking and telecom jobs.

    The biggest challenge for IT hiring is that the jobs are in hot demand from coast to coast, said Jake Spanberger, president of Entech, a Fort Myers IT services company.

    "The last two people we hired had just moved here from California and Tallahassee," Spanberger said. "They were planning to move here and they took jobs here to expedite the move, but we had been looking for people for some time."

    Spanberger said he has seen industry estimates that IT professionals have a 1 percent unemployment rate nationally.

    "It makes hiring more costly and you end up paying more for people with less experience than you might like to hire," he said.

    David Diamond, president and co-founder of DeAngelis Diamond Construction in Naples, said he tried recruiting a chief innovation officer for months without success. Finally, his son, Brett Diamond, switched from another job to fill the roll.

    David Diamond said lack of experience or education is not a factor in the challenge to find the right high-end IT worker.

    "Tech is innovating so quickly that someone with 10 or 20 years of experience might not be the right choice for you and so many of those who have the right skills and great attitudes are getting jobs in other places."

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