Employers, Schools Must End Skills Gap

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Talk to employers and university leaders about the state of talent in South Florida, and you quickly learn there is a disconnect.

Employers complain about a talent shortage, while academic institutions see graduates unable to find local jobs. Both sides agree on one thing: They are frustrated.

Employers report difficulty filling jobs because of a “skills gap” and often settle for candidates they feel forced to invest in with often costly on-the-job training. But what are some of those skills?

Academic institutions are graduating highly trained students in record numbers, yet they’re leaving South Florida for high-paying jobs. Why?

Those were some of the questions posed during a panel discussion hosted by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce with some of the region’s largest employers and leading academic institutions.

Human-resource professionals from Baptist Health South Florida, Citrix, Mercantil CommerceBank and Ryder System shared their challenges in hiring local talent, explaining the skills gap their industries are facing, while academic representatives from Florida International University, Miami Dade College, St. Thomas University, Year Up and University of Miami listened and shared how they are preparing students for today’s workforce.

A direct link between industry and academia points to key factors in preparing and recruiting students for the workforce: well-paying and fulfilling internships; partnerships between industries and universities; and teaching soft skills, such as creative problem-solving, critical thinking, ethical reasoning, negotiation, punctuality, and presentation.

The solution lies in identifying opportunities for better alignment between employers and students. In the current talent-driven economy, it is up to educational institutions and employers to bridge that gap.

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Ralph MacNamara is a director of client services in Kaufman Rossin’s Miami office and a member the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s executive committee. Kaufman Rossin is one of the top CPA firms in the U.S. Ralph can be reached at rmacnamara@kaufmanrossin.com.

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