Naples is hiring.
Summer isn’t as slow as it once was in Naples. The year-round population has grown — and so has the number of tourists visiting the area in what has traditionally been known as the slow season, or off-season, from May to October.
Naples and Fort Myers are among the fastest growing metros in the country and have been recognized as job growth leaders by the likes of Forbes Magazine.
“Several employers didn’t really have a break this summer. They were really active all summer long. We are starting to see that this area is a destination all year round now,” said Beth Barger, the Naples center supervisor for CareerSource Southwest Florida, in a recent Naples Daily News article.
In August, more than 11,580 listings were posted online for jobs in Lee and Collier counties, according to data compiled by The Conference Board.
“For the longest time it was the employers’ job market. Now it has shifted back to the job seekers’ market. We’ve just got to get the word back out there that there are plenty of employers, there are plenty of opportunities,” Barger said.
Among the most sought-after employees are chefs, servers and bartenders, following a national trend of worker shortages in the restaurant industry. Over the past few years, a slew of new restaurants have opened in Southwest Florida, making a bad situation worse.
Restaurants are far from alone in their desperate search for workers. With construction booming again in Southwest Florida, labor is tight. Hospitals are struggling to keep up with their hiring needs as they grow. Manufacturers, local governments, assisted living centers, and home improvement stores are looking to fill countless jobs with the region’s economy on the mend. As big-box retailers expand in the market, retailers too are hurting for more hands.
Eye Centers of Florida, RWL Communications Inc. and The Arlington, a new resort-style continuing care retirement community in East Naples, are just a few of the businesses that have recently held job fairs in Naples. They are on the hunt for year-round workers.
“It’s hard for us to find people that live in Naples and want to work in Naples,” said Holly Shearer, the Eye Centers of Florida human resources manager. “We got lots of people who live in Lee County who are willing to commute to Naples temporarily until something opens in Lee County. But that’s a quick fix and that is unstable for that office to have such a high turnover.”
As the busy season approaches, hiring has already kicked into high gear in the health care industry, which is in need of hundreds of workers.
Some of the hardest workers to find, she said, are critical care nurses, medical technologists, physical therapists, IT/business systems analysts, coders and advanced providers, such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners.
The NCH Healthcare System in Naples, with two hospitals in Collier County, is hunting for seasonal and year-round workers too, including registered nurses, acute care specialists, physical therapists and respiratory radiologists. New positions are being created by NCH’s growth, including a new chest pain center.