Pinellas County: Tampa’s Neighbor Predicts Job Growth and Need for Basic Skills

Pinellas County — located across the Bay from the larger, better-known city of Tampa — is known primarily for the tourist-haven cities of Clearwater and St. Petersburg, but it is also a driving economic force in the life of the central Florida area, touting:

  • 900,000 residents
  • A work force of 460,000, 27% of whom are in the 25 to 44 age range
  • A 10% increase in the number of professional jobs in the last decade
  • Over 35,000 businesses based within its borders
  • A cost of living 5% below the national average

Pinellas Predicts Small Business Job Growth

In a recent survey of over 900 businesses in Pinellas County, performed by Pinellas County Economic Development (PCED), the vast majority — 82% — reported employing 1-10 full-time employees. Among respondents, 89% reported employing 1-10 part-time employees.

These numbers may seem like small potatoes, but when you consider future plans for these same organizations for the next three years, the implications are significant:

Predicted Staff Additions – Percentage of Respondents

1-10 Full-time employees – 87%
11-50 Full-time employees – 13%
1-10 Part-time employees – 92%
11-50 Part-time employees – 8%

Even on a small scale, this translates into plenty of new job opportunities in all sectors of the economy. But what do these Pinellas County employers need in the way of skilled employees?

Traditional Business Skills Still the Most Important

According to the 900 survey respondents, the 10 most critical skills needed today are:

Type of Skill – Percentage Rating by Respondents

  1. Telephone etiquette – 76%
  2. Verbal communication – 76%
  3. Problem solving – 67%
  4. Interpersonal/teamwork – 61%
  5. Leadership – 60%
  6. Sales/marketing – 59%
  7. Accounting/bookkeeping – 56%
  8. Math – 56%
  9. Writing – 48%
  10. Word processing/typing – 47%

Other skills that Pinellas County employers consider necessary include:

Type of Skill – Percentage Rating by Respondents

Analytical/critical thinking – 42%
Mechanical/technical – 35%
Internet/e-commerce – 32%
Data processing – 28%
Spreadsheet – 28%
Database management – 26%
Computer programming – 25%
Desktop publishing – 23%
Bilingualability – 18%

Judging from these trends, in addition to basic business skills, businesses of all types and sizes are beginning to realize the necessity for employees with at least a baseline mastery of essential computer programs and IT concepts related to the management of data and information.

Looking Down the Road

When asked what skills will be necessary three years from now, the trends reverse themselves. Skills that employers identified as less critical today will be in much higher demand in the next three years. The top 10 skills that employers expect to need are:

Type of Skill – Percentage Rating by Respondents

  1. Bilingualability – 39%
  2. Internet/e-commerce – 31%
  3. Computer programming – 27%
  4. Database management – 23%
  5. Accounting/bookkeeping – 21%
  6. Desktop publishing – 21%
  7. Spreadsheet – 19%
  8. Data processing – 18%
  9. Mechanical/technical – 16%
  10. Sales/marketing – 16%

Other basic skills, like writing and math ability, fell to the bottom of the list, which would seem to indicate that employers count on having those skills readily available in the work force within three years.

So, if you’re in the Pinellas County work force — or if you plan on joining it soon — be sure to brush up on those basic business skills and be prepared to gain more computer-based training and experience to meet the future demand in this city by the Bay.

For more information on Pinellas County Economic Development and to download a copy of the full 2000 Business Assistance Survey for Pinellas County, please visit the PCED Web site at www.siliconbay.org.

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