The Pasco Economic Development Council Inc., has launched a three-year pilot program aimed at helping employers meet their workforce needs.
While the program, called the Pasco Talent Pipeline, aims to help employers meet their needs for skilled workers — other desired outcomes will be to improve the prospects for job seekers in Pasco County and bolster the county’s economic development potential.
Turner Arbour, Pasco EDC’s workforce development manager, is leading the effort.
His job involves a lot of listening, a fair amount of talking, and quite a bit of observation and data collection.
The initiative also includes the creation of a website that identifies a clear pipeline to different careers and targeted industries in the county.
The website will result from research and from collaboration between all of the stakeholders, Arbour said. He believes it will be a model for other initiatives in not only in Florida, but across the country, too.
Since assuming his responsibilities, Arbour has spent a good bit of time finding out about the array of organizations in Pasco County that are involved in workforce development.
Those entities include such organizations as AmSkills, CareerSource Pasco Hernando, Pasco-Hernando State College, Pasco County Schools, Saint Leo University and Goodwill.
He’s building a foundation of knowledge so he can share information about available resources when he discusses workforce needs with employers.
He plans to meet with representatives —industry by industry.
“I want to get a good mix of large employers, and medium and small employers. Their needs are, I’m sure different, but also, they’ll be facing some of the same challenges,” Arbour said.
“That first year is a lot of visitation,” said Bill Cronin, president/CEO of Pasco EDC.
In some cases, Arbour will help the employer tap into existing resources to help meet his needs. In other cases, he’ll discover where gaps exist.
When then are obstacles, Cronin said: “We’ll have to determine: Is it individual to that company? Is it individual to that location? Is it unique to that industry?
“If it’s a Pasco County issue, then we can work together with the players in Pasco County to provide some type of solution,” Cronin said.
If it’s an industrywide problem, helping to figure out or create a solution can help make Pasco County more attractive to that type of industry, Cronin said.
“We can use that solution to recruit other companies,” he said, noting, in a sense, the county can say: “We get you. We understand you.”
As data is collected, it can be analyzed to see if there’s a systemic problem and efforts can begin to try to find solutions.
For instance, the data might reveal there’s a shortage of workers in one industry that might be addressed by workers in another industry who have appropriate transferable skills, Cronin said.
To help create a full picture of industry needs and successes, Arbour welcomes an invitation to visit any business in Pasco County.
“I think it’s important to see the operation and see what they have going on there,” Arbour said.
Cronin added: “They don’t have to wait until they have a problem to call. It would be great to have their input now. That way we can make sure their information is included.”
The county wants to be sure it has a full picture — including plants and companies that are located here, but have their headquarters elsewhere.
“The last thing we want to do is miss part of that data,” Cronin said.
The economic development agency also wants to offer help that has staying power, Cronin added.
Often, there are resources available, but companies need help navigating those resources.
“There’s a tendency in a lot of these groups. ‘Oh, call so and so.’ And that’s it.
“That doesn’t work for us,” Cronin said.
Published February 13, 2019