This week’s question: The U.S. is experiencing a national shortage of skilled construction workers. In your field, what skills, training, education or professions do you think are hardest to find and hire in South Florida’s workforce?
In Miami, the medical field is robust and quality talent is easy to identify. However, a weakness is most often found in the area of customer service. We are very focused on finding personable and skilled employees for those positions. Customer service is key in a healthcare facility like OrthoNOW, where patients come with an orthopedic or sports injury. They, or their loved one, are generally in pain and experiencing high anxiety. An expert yet friendly and warm team is what will make a difference in the patient experience and likely in their outcome.
Alejandro Badia, orthopedic surgeon and founder, OrthoNOW
In the hotel industry, we are fortunate to have many job training programs including: The Hospitality Institute of Miami Dade College, Career Source South Florida, as well as our education institutions such as the Chapman School of Hospitality at Florida International University, Johnson and Wales University, Florida Atlantic University, and the Miami Dade County Public Schools Academy of Hospitality and Tourism. Despite these institutions and training programs, the most difficult role to fill in the hotel today is the Hotel Engineer. Much of our hotel’s physical plant and systems are controlled by computer programs. We can always use people who are IT-savvy in addition to being handy with a wrench.
Peggy Benua, general manager, Dream South Beach
As a nonprofit, we cannot pay top salaries. In fact, we only have one paid employee! Whether paid or volunteer, we seek people with great skills but who are also passionate about our mission and cause. We are thankful that so many people have stepped and volunteered their time and talents to Friends of The Underline.
Meg Daly, president and CEO, Friends of The Underline
The hardest to find in my field is not individuals with the skills, training and education for the positions we hire. Instead, it is applicants/employees who have a commitment to excellence; a willingness to work; not because you have to, but because you want to believe that what you do, good or bad, is a reflection of you. And finally, it’s not how much you make, it’s how much you produce. There is a difference in being qualified for job and qualified to work.
T. Willard Fair, president and CEO, Urban League of Greater Miami
There is demand in banking for experienced bankers with good business development skills, as well as compliance officers with experience and training. The most sought after specialties in banking are commercial lending and private banking; both require at least 10 years of front line experience to be truly qualified. Besides actual working experience, there are higher education requirements, preferably a master’s degree in business administration. Other requirements are specialized securities licenses and professional designations such as Certified Financial Planner or Certified Financial Analyst. These designations take two to three years of formal education in specific business fields in order to qualify an individual to take the exam that grants accreditation. While these educational requirements are essential, they do not take the place of sales and interpersonal skills that are needed in order to establish and develop a thriving book of business. Given all these requirements, successful bankers are hard to find in South Florida and other places, as well.
Vicky Garrigo, market head, U.S. Southeastern Region Private Banking, HSBC Bank
It’s always difficult to find those who have a passion for books and also want to work in a retail setting. Booksellers are some of this community’s most educated workers who have often have given up more financially lucrative careers for pursuing a mission to keep the word alive and relevant, while at the same time helping to sustain the next generation of readers. They are heroes, and the best are hard to find.
Mitch Kaplan, founder, Books & Books
At JLL, we have a project development services division for which it has been challenging to find talented and capable project managers, as the demand for skilled construction professionals remains high across South Florida. In the commercial real estate industry specifically, brokers were traditionally sales people, but in today’s world, being a sales professional is just one criteria of success, thus it is also challenging to find capable and talented advisers who are business consultants, not traditional transactional brokers that are great at sales. The industry is seeking more sophisticated advisers that understand the business implications of real estate decisions. It is no longer about doing the deal, but rather our industry has evolved to serve as trusted business consultants with significant intellectual range to advise across a myriad of business subjects. Finding the full package is more challenging, but JLL has an advantage as one of the largest commercial real estate brokerage firms with a global, full-service platform, high-tech resources and research capabilities, which helps us to attract talented individuals.
Alan Kleber, managing director, JLL (Jones Lang LaSalle)
At Brickell Motors, we are constantly looking for skilled workers for our service departments, and we offer the ability for a person with the right training and commitment to have a long and successful career. Technicians within all of our brands (Audi, Buick, Cadillac, GMC, Honda, Infiniti and Mazda) can advance to six-figure incomes. The challenge is that as a society, we continue to look down upon the traditional trades, like construction and automotive service. We aspire for our children to have “white-collar” careers, even though we know that we need a labor force to build our homes, pave our roads and service our vehicles. The irony is that the cars and trucks that our technicians service are some of the most sophisticated machines that any of us will ever interact with, but we still view the men and women who fix them as merely skilled labor. To fix this, we need to bolster our commitment to teaching trades and educating young people about the value of working within the skilled labor profession.
Mario Murgado, president and CEO, Brickell Motors
The maintenance and property-management demands of running a restaurant are significant and must be managed properly in order to run a successful operation. I supervise daily repairs and maintenance to our facility, as well as our food-service equipment, which is both costly and temperamental. The technicians and tradesmen that work on this equipment are in high demand, clearly exhibited by the time it takes to get them on site, and the cost of their services. Techs in industries such as refrigeration, HVAC, plumbing and gas are needed desperately — there is a void that must be filled, and I would advise young people to consider these realms when thinking of employment, as it will reward them handsomely!
Steve Perricone, president and owner, Perricone’s Restaurant
We seem to have a dynamic workforce in Miami that gets stretched in times of unbelievable rapid expansion. Now that things are settling down, I suppose the workforce will come back in balance.
Craig Robins, president and CEO, Dacra
With more than 14,000 employees at NextEra Energy (FPL’s parent company) covering a wide range of professions, we are constantly looking for the best and brightest in nearly every field. We, too, find that skilled craft and construction workers, as well as mechanically skilled professionals, are in high demand. In addition to a robust college internship program that welcomes more than 200 students a year from across the nation, we’re also working with local communities and state colleges to create job training programs for a variety of professional and skilled craft roles, including Miami Dade College and Florida International University.
Eric Silagy, president and CEO, Florida Power & Light
The reality is that many of the largest, national environmental organizations and think tanks don’t have a presence in Miami. It can be difficult, therefore, for highly trained environmental scientists and policy experts to find employment in South Florida where they are sorely needed. In part, as a result of these factors, we have received applications for a number of tremendously qualified individuals — many with graduate degrees — who are willing to work for free because they care about South Florida’s environment and want to help protect our region’s future. Their contributions are, of course, helpful to us and beneficial to our community, but the model is unsustainable. A more robust, professional, environmental community — coupled with engaged and sustained philanthropic giving from individuals and foundations — would help us build a more sustainable economy, a healthier workforce, and a thriving environment for our children and grandchildren.
Rachel Silverstein, executive director, Miami Waterkeeper