Florida counties work to boost marine workforce

BRADENTON, Fla. – A labor shortage in Florida has given other states a foothold in their efforts to recruit local boat builders to relocate, something which has scared county officials into taking action to end the shortage, according to an October 31 report of the Tampa Bay Business Journal.

Boat builders are considered vital to Florida’s economy, with Manatee and Sarasota County currently possessing 15 such manufacturers that together employ more than 1,200 people, according to the journal.

In response, several area boat builders have partnered with the Suncoast Workforce Board, the Manatee Economic Development Council and the Manatee Technical Institute to offer a finishing and laminating training program, the graduates of which boat builders could draw on to fulfill their need for skilled workers.

The program is currently accepting students at the MTI campus, the journal reported. The group estimates that there will be local demand for more than 140 finishers and laminators over the next three years.

“These people are in high demand,” Maura Howl, MTI’s grants and marketing specialist told the Tampa Bay Business Journal. “North Carolina is aggressively going after boat manufacturers and telling them they have the work force they need. We want to keep the companies here.”

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