Employers going the extra mile to bring in skilled employees to their business

Reporter: Corey Lazar
Published: Updated:
Worker shortage in SWFL. Photo via WINK News

As Southwest Florida continues to grow, our partners at Gulfshore Business have uncovered a worker shortage that has lead some companies to to take that extra step to hire skilled and dedicated employees.

Businesses are doing things like paying off student loans for employees in an attempt to draw in as many skilled workers as possible.

Chase Hilderbrand is a Project Engineer at Suffolk, a construction company that is paying it’s employees $100 a month towards FGCU student loans.

“$100 a month extra towards student loans, that is decently a huge benefit to relieve monthly bills and keep retain age at the company,” said Hilderbrand.

It is part of a pilot program to lure in qualified employees, during a time when it’s tough to come across them.

SWFL was short more than 6,700 workers in 2018, which is a 30 percent higher gap than in 2017.

Businesses like retail, food service, landscaping, and construction are feeling the shortage the worst.

Sarah Owens, who runs the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, believes this issue starts from a young age for people.

“Sometimes people think of workforce as a right now issue, which it is, but we have to start from early childhood all the way through to really build a system that helps us develop the workforce we need now and in to the future,” said Owens.

Some local schools have designed programs that introduce students to careers through hands on training, which she believes has been a big help.

Maria Roca, leads a program at FGCU called the “Complete Program”, which offers convenient classes for people already in the workforce, and provides them an opportunity to earn a degree while being employed.

“We are in the middle of working on something called PLA which is Prior Life Experience and working on a policy for someone who went through the police academy or military and working on taking those credits as well,” Roca said.

Roca’s graduates go on to fill job openings at rapidly expanding local companies.

View the Gulfshore Business article in full depth by going to their website here.


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