Our May Leadership Lunch and Learn: Closing the Skills Gap

Leon Fooksman
Leadership Palm Beach County
April 21, 2016


Did you know that there’s a skills gap in Palm Beach County? It’s true -- primarily in high skill, high wage jobs in the healthcare, aviation/aerospace, life sciences, information technology and marine industries.

Our next Leadership Lunch and Learn on May 31 – Closing the Skills Gap -- will tackle the issue. Register for the event here.

We asked the event’s moderator, Michael Corbit of CareerSource, to explain what will happen if we don’t address the skills gap and how we all can work to resolve the issue in our community.


1) Explain what is the skills gap?

Michael Corbit: The skills gap has been impacting the U.S. economy for over a decade. Many employers have open jobs that they are unable to fill because of the lack of qualified workers. There is a mismatch between the skills needed to fill open jobs and the skills applicants are bringing to market. We need to better match supply and demand in the open job market to bridge the skills gap.


2) What kind of skills gap is Palm Beach County facing?

Michael Corbit: Primarily in high skill, high wage jobs, Palm Beach County is attempting to diversify its workforce to match open jobs. This includes workers in healthcare, aviation/aerospace, life sciences, information technology and marine. Many of these industries are seeking specific skills to bring candidates on board and then teach them unique traits to fit within a job. Many jobs require educational degrees or certifications. A job seeker must have the skills, knowledge and experience to perform on the job.


3) What will happen if the skills gap isn’t resolved?

Michael Corbit: Employers will continue to search and recruit for the best possible candidates. If they cannot find local candidates to fill jobs, they will search outside the area and even the state to bring in qualified candidates to fill open positions. If the problem becomes too severe, employers may pick up and relocate to an area where they can find qualified workers. By expanding the hiring pool, employers will benefit from better qualified workers and the region will benefit when jobs and economic opportunities are opened to a broader group of candidates.


4) What can our leaders do to reduce the skills gap?

Michael Corbit: The best approach to reduce the skills gap is to help young people prepare for the basics in life. Good writing, communication, teamwork and attitude skills are essentials for success. We should also look to expand business to education partnerships. Employers witness the direct output of our school systems and higher education institutions. Local businesses see how prepared candidates are to enter the workplace. Over half of surveyed businesses believe our education system does not teach the skills needed for today’s jobs. We should also look abroad at what works in other countries such as internships and apprenticeships. These countries combine paid work with on-the-job and classroom training in high demand industries.

Join us for an informative conversation about the skills gap at our next Leadership Lunch and Learn on May 31 at the Palm Beach Post at 2751 South Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach. Register here. Seating is limit.

Michael Corbit is Director of Business Development at CareerSource Palm Beach County. Through CareerSource Palm Beach County, Michael collaborates with regional businesses, government, education & industry leaders to spur job growth and business development. He represents CareerSource on a variety of boards and committees including Palm Beach County League of Cities, Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies, Florida Manufacturing Trade Grant, Shared Services Council Executive Committee, Treasure Coast Council of Local Governments, South Florida Manufacturing Association and Marine Industry Association of Palm Beach County. Previous experience: Vice President of Marketing & Sales for API, Director of Community and Employer Relations CareerSource Research Coast, Executive Director of InternetCoast, Channel Marketing Manager of Citrix Systems, Director of Marketing and Communications for Champion Solutions Group (IBM) and Marketing Manager Sensormatic Electronics.