BY NICHOLAS NEHAMAS
Miami-Dade County must keep diversifying its economy in order to protect against another recession, local community leaders said at an annual Beacon Council meeting on Wednesday.
The Beacon Council, Miami-Dade’s economic development agency, announced plans to launch an online career portal for job-seekers and employers in seven key industries at the heart of its One Community One Goal initiative, which was launched in 2012 to create local jobs with good salaries.
“We have the talent here in Miami-Dade County,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who spoke at the event. “We don’t want to lose that talent to anywhere else.”
The target industries include aviation; banking and finance; creative design; information technology; hospitality and tourism; life sciences and healthcare; and trade and logistics.
Those fields are important because they offer plenty of so-called “middle-skill” jobs that pay a living wage, according to a report presented by JPMorgan Chase.
Middle-skill jobs require additional training beyond high school but do not require a bachelor’s degree. About 22 percent of Miami’s 1.2 million jobs are middle-skill roles that pay a median hourly wage of nearly $25, JPMorgan found based on data from 2014. The region’s median wage is $18.48 per hour, according to the study.
Still, local employers are struggling to find workers for those positions because lower-income residents don’t have access to the training they need, said Chauncy Lennon, managing director of global philanthropy at the investment bank.
The seven target fields are expected to create about 9,540 middle-skill job openings per year through 2019.
To connect would-be workers with such jobs, the bank recommended that the Beacon Council and its community partners invest in training for low-skilled youth and adults interested in the two fastest growing fields — trade and information technology— and advertise about the availability of positions.
Larry Williams, president and CEO of the Beacon Council, a public-private partnership funded partly with tax dollars, said the JPMorgan report would guide the council’s planning on job creation in the future.
This year’s co-chairs for One Community One Goal are Matt Haggman, Miami program director for the Knight Foundation, and Nelson Lazo, CEO of Doctors Hospital Baptist Health South Florida.
About 500 people who attended the event, held at Jungle Island, also learned about progress in the initiative’s various goals, including a paid internship program for local students announced in April.
The Talent Development Network so far has 45 postings from Baptist Health South Florida, American Airlines and Miami-Dade County, said Steven Rojas Tallon, program lead for the network. The network plans to create about 200 paid internships in the next 20 months, he said.
Alexander Iglesias, a rising junior at Florida International University, started an internship with Baptist through the network earlier this month. “It’s a great opportunity to get real-world work experience,” Iglesias said.
FIU president Mark Rosenberg urged business leaders in the audience to register for the network.
“It is a shared responsibility for us to generate the talent for this community but we cannot do it without you,” Rosenberg said.
Progress on other initiatives has been slower.
An incubator for talented local fashion designers was formulated three years ago and officially launched last year at the downtown Macy’s store but still needs about $150,000 in funding. It is looking to local companies for help and has secured space at the Macy’s stores that will open at the new Miami Worldcenter mall in the fall of 2017.
New programs include a similar incubator for trade and logistics and an urban initiatives committee that will help grow businesses in lower-income areas.
“We’re really going to be looking at how we grow the innovation system, the entrepreneurs, so we can grow that next generation of ingenuity here in Miami-Dade,” Williams said.
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