Labor shortages hit South Florida marine businesses

MIAMI – South Florida’s marine industry is having a difficult time finding qualified workers as increased demand and a shortage of new talent have combined to create a tight labor market, the Miami Herald reported in a recent story.

Seventy South Florida businesses participated in a job fair last week, hosted by the South Florida Manufacturers Association and the Marine Industries Association of South Florida. About 200 jobseekers attended, according to the newspaper.

Broward Marine, a yacht manufacturing and repair business in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was one of the participating employers. Mac McLaughlin, Broward Marine’s chief financial offer, told the Herald his company has hired 40 people since it changed ownership six months ago, bringing the workforce to 58. But the company needs at least 158 more workers – mostly welders, carpenters, electricians and painters – to take on new orders.

A declining dollar against the euro and an aging population with lots of disposable income have created a great deal of demand in South Florida’s marine industry. Workforce experts say businesses like Broward Marine are struggling to find skilled, available labor for two reasons: One, many workers don’t even know the businesses exist. And two, many workers don’t have the training they require, the newspaper reported.

”Our old workforce has come of age, and it hasn’t been resupplied with younger people,” Donna McBride, workforce coordinator for the marine association, told the Herald.

To solve the labor problem, businesses must develop a comprehensive worker-training program, Michael Ruiz, manager of employer services for South Florida Workforce, the state’s job placement agency for Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, told the newspaper.

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