Bridging Skills Gaps: How Southeast Volusia is Rising to the Challenge

Wed, Sep 27, 2023 at 11:24AM

Bridging Skills Gaps: How Southeast Volusia is Rising to the Challenge

The landscape of modern industry as we know it is changing each day. It’s true worldwide – and certainly within Southeast Volusia. In response to innovation and demands of the market, the skills gap continues to widen.

So, what exactly is the skills gap? This prevalent issue arises when employers' needs outpace the abilities of their available workforce. This discrepancy is a significant concern. The manufacturing and technology sectors both tend towards being heavily impacted by this skills gap.

To push towards a thriving tomorrow for businesses, Southeast Volusia Manufacturing and Technology Coalition (SEVMTC) sees this area as a problem requiring immediate attention. Read on as we delve deeper into understanding where this gap occurs, its implications for our region, and the steps we are taking to proactively bridge it.

Understanding the Skills Gap

To understand what the skills gap is, you’ll need to first recognize it as a sort of misalignment. On one side, we’re facing technologies and processes that are becoming more sophisticated and impactful. On the other side, they’ll need to synergize with a workforce armed with skills that are rising up to these latest innovations and standards.

However, as technology rapidly advances, traditional education and training aren’t always able to keep pace. As a result, industries can face a shortage of workers who are fully qualified to carry out these new processes. In practice, a skills gap can cost a business decreased efficiency, stunted growth, and even overall slowing innovation.

Southeast Volusia itself stands at a particular crossroads. Our region shows a blend of both longstanding heritage and technology-focused modernity. As our businesses implement forward-thinking initiatives, the challenge becomes not only to fill those vacancies, but to ensure that positions are being filled with workers with the right competencies. So, how can we solve this shifting paradigm? Overall, we’re seeing a need for training solutions that are not only robust enough to meet the needs of our longstanding local industries, but also adaptable to fit the changing world we’re living and working within.

SEVMTC's Proactive Approach

It's our goal at SEVMTC to meet the pressing need for synergy between these growing hiring requirements of employers and the skills requirements of workers. One recent step SEVMTC has taken to proactively meet this need came in the form of a recent event. The Workforce Development Symposium created a platform to bring together our top minds in business, academia, and governance to strategize on education and training initiatives in our county.

With a focus on collaboration and innovation, the Workforce Development Symposium was held at the Brannon Center in New Smyrna Beach and featured panelists in economic development, manufacturing, education, and beyond to spotlight the collaboration and innovation occurring throughout our county. From hiring legislation to the nuances of modern training, the event aimed to identify and bridge the skills gap with actionable strategies, including hands-on training programs and partnerships.

Training Programs & Assistance

Through collaboration with CareerSource Flagler Volusia, SEVMTC connects businesses with a suite of training programs tailored to specific needs. New or expanding businesses, for example, can benefit from the Quick Response Training Program (QRT) – and Daytona State College even provides assistance with program development.

However, if you are not part of a new or expanding business, there are additional options available for training. The Incumbent Worker Training Program (IWT) is provided to businesses in operation for a minimum of one year, and it aims to help with employee upskilling – ensuring businesses can maintain a competitive advantage in evolving fields.

CareerSource Flagler Volusia offers a vast array of services to local businesses – all deserving of a special mention. With an ongoing mission to address the daily challenges faced by business leaders, they aim to provide recruiting assistance, training reimbursement programs, and other solutions to help local businesses maintain a skilled workforce. Programs like On-The-Job Training (OJT) and Customized Training (CT) aren’t just buzzwords! Both are pivotal in shaping a competitive, skilled workforce for businesses. To help connect learners with these opportunities, Volusia County Schools works directly with employers to offer OJT programs and internships to its high school students, taking early steps to nurture our county's growing local workforce. 

SEVMTC Provides More Than Just Training

Training programs are a crucial part of any region’s economic development. However, at SEVMTC, we aim to provide an approach that transcends traditional boundaries. We strive to set the stage for long-term growth through providing opportunities that foster the growth of young professionals and attract even more talent from across the nation. It’s not just about immediately acquiring skills. Instead, the goal is to create an environment where continuous learning and professional development thrive.

So, when it comes down to it, addressing the skills gap isn’t a one-and-done job. This represents a continuous journey of adaptation and growth. The good news? Southeast Volusia has shown an ongoing commitment to this process. Through our collaborative efforts, comprehensive training programs, and strong manufacturing and technology community, we are responding to today’s challenges while preparing for tomorrow’s demands, too.

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