Florida will lag behind the nation in creating high-paying jobs and producing workers who can fill them, according to a study by Georgetown University released Tuesday.
The analysis by the Center on Education and the Workforce says Florida isn’t investing enough in education to improve its workforce and business mix, and the result is an imbalance of low-skilled, low-wage jobs.
The state also faces challenges in keeping its working-age population employed in the next decade because its population is expected to grow by 21 percent — faster than other states in the South, the report says.
But Florida and the rest of the South is a decade behind in higher education of its workforce.
By 2020, 65 percent of all jobs in the United States will require a college education. In the South, only 59 percent of jobs will require at least some college.
Florida will have mostly lower-paid jobs that will require only a technical certificate or some college, said Tony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University center. And there will be fewer of those jobs as well, he said.
By 2017, “construction will start to look like it used to, but not as big as it used to be,” he said. “The issue going forward is the mix of jobs.”
Carnevale said an under-investment in education in a state results in a lower-skilled workforce. And companies that offer high-paying jobs won’t locate in a state where there isn’t a high-skilled labor force.
“It’s a kind of catch-22,” he said.
Lane Wright, spokesman for Gov. Rick Scott, said the governor has prioritized improvement of education and helping businesses create jobs. He pointed to a billion-dollar increase to the state’s education budget and the governor’s call for higher education to focus on degrees that result in jobs.
Nathaniel Robertson, chairman of Palm Beach County’s Economic Council, said education and business diversity have been issues recognized by the county. “I’m not at all surprised that somebody says we need to improve our skills,” he said.
The county has been working on initiatives to improve education and make sure young people have a path either toward college or a good-paying technical occupation, he said.
“We’re running hard to become a new economy,” Robertson said, pointing out the county has invested in higher skilled biotech jobs through Scripps Florida and Max Planck.
Carnevale said Florida has the potential to become a higher-waged service industry through jobs in healthcare, banking and tourism.
“If you build a strong workforce, you’ll draw industry to Florida,” he said.