How Pinellas County, Florida is Accelerating the Talent Pipeline for Industry 4.0.
With a focus on collaboration in workforce development and talent attraction, Pinellas County, Florida is helping manufacturers take Industry 4.0 to the next generation through strategic partnerships, education, and development of the talent pipeline.
A manufacturing powerhouse sits on West Florida’s Central Gulf Coast, surrounded by idyllic coastal towns and award-winning beaches like Clearwater Beach and St. Pete Beach. Pinellas County boasts a rich history of manufacturing in industries including defense, medical devices, electronics, aviation and aerospace. Pinellas leads as 3rd county in the state for manufacturing employee base, and 2nd in the number of manufacturing establishments. With a manufacturing employee base numbered at over 34,000 strong, the region’s workforce, resources, and high-tech ecosystem are positioned to transition seamlessly to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Pinellas County has been at the forefront for decades to help usher in the next wave of manufacturing by offering the tools, resources and the environment to drive job creation and investment in an evolving business environment. While the community offers multiple ways to help with manufacturing site readiness and assistance for scaling up, Pinellas County Economic Development (PCED) has been deployed to take a hands-on, personalized approach with manufacturers to foster high-wage skills growth by collaborating with partner agencies and educational institutions to produce and retain smart manufacturing talent.
Industry Partnerships with Universities and Colleges to Advance Talent Innovation
Pinellas County’s robust talent pipeline is evidenced by companies with a longstanding presence in the region, such as Jabil, Inc., a global manufacturing leader. In the early 2000s, the company approached PCED with its plans for expansion. After considering options in other markets, the company firmly resolved to stay in St. Petersburg, citing the area’s deep talent pool and opportunities to leverage partnerships with the local universities as a core reason.
Jabil’s commitment and goodwill to expanding the talent pipeline extended to the University of South Florida College of Engineering and Muma College of Business, establishing a partnership to launch the USF Jabil Innovation Institute to catalyze collaborative efforts in innovative research and talent development. Students are offered experiential learning opportunities, such as the Jabil Innovation Technology Challenge, to develop skills and showcase their innovative solutions on selected global topics and trends.
For many Pinellas County manufacturing employers like Jabil, the solution to sourcing talent and closing skills gaps for early career employees lies in partnership with St. Petersburg College’s Engineering and Manufacturing programs and workforce grants offered by the State of Florida. The College offers industry certifications and degree programs, and the Collaborative Center for Emerging Technologies offers training in additive manufacturing, rapid prototyping, electronic instrumentation and reverse engineering. The College has also developed free and low-cost short-term training for Mechatronics, Certified Production Technicians, and other adjacent specializations. Ample support for worker training grants, recruitment and hiring is offered through CareerSource Pinellas, through which qualified, skilled talent and job seekers are matched with employment opportunities.
Building Equitable Talent Pipelines with Industry Champions
Talent pipeline development starts early in Pinellas County Schools with STEM- and Engineering-focused middle and high school programs to prepare a broad segment of students for careers in manufacturing. Students at Pinellas Technical College are immersing themselves in workforce preparedness with programs in CNC, CAD, welding, carpentry, electrical courses and are introduced to composite manufacturing.
Director of Pinellas County Economic Development, Dr. Cynthia Johnson explains, “Intentionality is central to our approach to economic development, and that includes supporting creative ways to introduce manufacturing training to youth, adults, military veterans, and persons that may be economically disadvantaged.” Pinellas County was an early funder of AmSkills, an organization that recruits, trains, and sustains high school programs, bootcamps, classes, and apprenticeships for the manufacturing industry, with a focus on robotics, mechatronics, CNC, and more. AmSkills has aligned its programs to be consistent with the certification requirements of the Smart Automation Certification Alliance (SACA) to meet the realities of Industry 4.0.
Manufacturing industry champions in Pinellas County area have positioned the region as a strong and equitable talent pipeline for Industry 4.0. State, County, and local governments have converged with partners such as Local SME Suncoast Chapter 159, Bay Area Manufacturers Association (BAMA), Florida Makes, Florida Medical Manufacturers Consortium (FMMC), and Florida West Coast Chapter – National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA) to provide education, programming, coaching, strategic partnerships, and access to investment funding to help manufacturers thrive and grow while building a pipeline of the next generation that is adaptive to innovative and disruptive technology.
Learn more about manufacturing in Pinellas County at PCED.org.
Pinellas County – The Ideal Business Climate
Pinellas County Economic Development (PCED) works with existing businesses to encourage expansion and seeks to attract new companies with high-wage careers to Central Florida’s Gulf Coast. Through investment tools, professional courses and business counseling sessions, trade missions to open new markets, as well as local, regional and statewide partnerships, PCED fosters a pro-business climate in Pinellas County, Florida.
Pinellas County Economic Development
The EpiCenter, 13805 58th Street North, Suite 1-200
Clearwater, Florida 33760
(727) 464-7332 direct
(888) 759-5627 outside of Florida
(727) 464-7053 fax