Jobs and Employment

Jobs and Employment for Walton County


I reviewed the Florida 2030 Report to glean insights into what jobs may be available to grow our county away from dependence on Tourism. Currently many Walton County residents work in entry level service jobs. There are mid-level and higher paying jobs available with less than 1 year of training and a certificate. There are many jobs eligible for the Workforce Opportunity and Innovation grant, funding that is available to anyone who is a U.S. Citizen, over 18 years of age, and currently making less than $16.71 per hour. Grants of up to $7500 will help you gain additional skills to get a higher paying job. And these grants do not have to be repaid. Go to


The following is a summary and excerpts from the 80 page report available at


Employability skills are mentioned as a critical need throughout the report: Teamwork, communication, time management, work ethic, problem solving, and active listening. With the reliance on Social Media for Communication our Youth are missing out on opportunities for teamwork, communication and active listening. We must focus to fill these skills gaps that are so critical to success in any endeavor.


In recent years, the growth within agriculture, tourism, and construction has been matched by gains in five of Florida’s eight  targeted industry clusters, which include: aerospace and aviation; health care and life sciences; manufacturing; logistics and distribution; and financial and professional services. These 5 industries represent only 30% of Florida jobs but over 45% of Florida state gross domestic product (almost half of all the production and skilled services in Florida). So even though 70% of jobs are in tourism, agriculture and construction, almost half of income is outside those fields, a sign of higher paying jobs. These are the fields where we must focus.

Health care:

810,381 jobs statewide (2016) 

  • 9 percent net job growth projected through 2021 
  • 66 percent of jobs require a post-secondary degree or credential 
  • Key sub-baccalaureate opportunities: 

o Medical assistants 

o Licensed practical and vocational nurses 

o Medical records and health information technicians 

  • Greatest projected long-term skills gaps: 

o Billing and posting clerks 

o Medical and clinical laboratory technologists


The United Way estimates that a family of 4 needs to earn $47,484 to be able to afford basic necessities. Currently a whopping 45% of Walton County families are Asset Limited, Income Restrained and Employed and fall below this income level. The Report also points out that most poverty in the State is clustered along the northern border (in our Region) and in the south-central counties. This is a strong indicator that we may be in a position to ask for more resources. (Healthcare survey in 2016 reports that 33% of Walton residents are below poverty threshold)


Specific areas for HealthCare growth that would be a good fit for Walton County:

            -Dental Laboratory Assistants (partner with LECOM)

            -Home health care aides and coordinators

            -Medical assistants

            -Medical records and IT techs


Looking Ahead in the Health Care Industry 


Occupations within the health care field are evolving to incorporate an increased emphasis on both cost reduction and care improvement. A recent study by the Florida  Center for Nursing highlighted seven “priority occupations” for the state that are either evolving or emerging within the industry:      

  • Community Health Worker
  • Registered Nurse Care Coordinator 
  • Registered Nurse
  • Health Data Analyst/Health Informatics 
  • Medical Records and Health Information Technician 
  • Medical Scribe
  • Health and Wellness Coordinator 

Often, these positions require more advanced education (i.e., a bachelor’s degree) and high levels of digital and/or employability skills. But it is another step from a mid-level job to move up in pay and responsibility.

Banking and finance management jobs


An example in the report is made of Achieve Escambia, part of a long-term strategy by local businesses in Pensacola to ensure continued access to “homegrown” talent. Achieve Escambia boasts a cradle to career mission to help from early childhood education right thru high school and beyond. Walton County has a similar a strategy called Leadership Walton, and includes vocational training.


Stakeholders noted that despite the high percentage of jobs in the cluster that require a bachelor’s degree, professional associate’s programs can offer valuable entry points into the cluster. For example, an associate’s degree in accounting prepares individuals directly for accounts payable/bookkeeping positions. This pathway is especially valuable as the Florida Institute of CPAs anticipates that up to 50 percent of their membership will retire in the next five years.




Walton County has a great Emergency Management facility and is perfectly poised with land and transportation hubs to be a staging point for anticipated disaster response. Why not approach Senator Rick Scott to ask for a FEMA grant to help expand this critical role that we could play.


  1. Provide an area that could quickly ramp up for incoming lineman, roofers, tarp distribution
  2. Provide funding in terms of scholarships or grants to train the “first responders” like chainsaw operation, debris removal, tree safety
  3. Provide a pool of “first responders” who are trained and can act as ground apprentices to linemen or assessors and surveyors to get the right power crew to the right spot. Did you know that Lineman make over $30,000 a week in responding after disasters? Getting folks cross-trained in first responder types of skills allows them to continue to work and earn even after a disaster.


Digital age jobs

While some jobs will likely be replaced by automation in coming years, more workers will need to use technology to perform specific tasks within occupations. McKinsey’s Global Institute estimates that the risk of automation is lowest for jobs within health care, education, and other fields that require high levels of stakeholder interaction, management, and analytical thinking.      

As a result, Florida’s workers will need to develop and maintain two distinct types of skills to remain competitive in the global economy: digital skills and employability skills. Given Florida’s industry segmentation and the need to prepare Floridians for middle-skill jobs, addressing the demand for these skills will be critical for the state. 


According to research conducted by Burning Glass, digital skills are increasingly crucial to employers with 65 percent of job postings nationwide requesting Digital skills. These skills may be categorized in three different tiers:


  • Productivity software skills include spreadsheet and word processing tools (e.g., Excel and Word) as well as enterprise management software such as Oracle or SAP. These skills are increasingly becoming baseline requirements for the majority of jobs
  • Advanced digital skills include customer relationship management software, higher-end computer networking, digital media and design software, social media tools, and search engine analysis.
  • Occupation-specific digital skills are focused on the technologies used most commonly in health care, production, and manufacturing occupations. The core skills in this group are specific to the machinery and technology used by each occupation (e.g., AutoCAD or knowledge of radiology machines for radiology technicians). Did you know that there are grants specifically for Employers to help underwrite the costs associated with getting new or seasoned employees job-specific training? Employers can apply for WOIA grants that would pay salary while employees gain occupation-specific skills on the job. Go to this link:



Coding in Florida’s Classrooms      


By integrating coding and computer science instruction into elementary, secondary, and post- secondary curricula, Florida can help ensure that its students have the digital skills to succeed in 21st-century jobs and to help the state remain globally competitive. While there is no dedicated funding for professional development of computer science teachers, school districts are able to offer experiences in computer science instruction, including coding, using standards adopted by the State Board of Education. 


The importance of digital skills to new disruptive technologies continues to trend upward. Addressing the challenges to industries working in big data and analytics,  placing data on the cloud, and the emergence of the Internet of Things has created rapid growth in information and network security. Job posting data indicate that employers are seeking workers who have honed their expertise and developed specific skills in these areas. Further, the real-time data indicate that employers are often concerned first with the skills needed, and then with the particular occupations that are best suited to address this need. While a single new mid-level occupation exists for cybersecurity, basic skills and cybersecurity knowledge are increasingly in demand in other positions, such as auditors. As the workplace evolves based upon the proliferation of these technologies, education and training institutions must adapt to ensure both economic competitiveness and continued opportunities for learner advancement.  


The Internet of things


The Internet of Things is based upon machine-to-machine communication. Physical objects embedded with sensors (e.g., from cement in roadways, or from cardiac pacemakers or from fitness trackers) are linked through both wired and wireless networks. For example, the Internet of Things enables precision farming in which data are collected from satellite and ground sensors that enable farmers to customize their approach to how specific parts of a field are farmed. Such sensors target—and communicate—which areas may need additional soil, fertilizer, or water. 


Employability skills


The proliferation of service industry/hospitality jobs provides Florida with many workers with soft-skills training, and many smart companies are leveraging this advantage for their own economic competitiveness. However, many Florida stakeholders identified that although these skills are in high demand, they are increasingly lacking among new entrants to the workforce. The increasing importance of employability skills is due, in part, to the nationwide shift in work from routine and manual tasks toward analytical and interpersonal tasks. Jobs increasingly require workers to demonstrate employability skills rather than the ability to follow simple directions. Further, several recent reports demonstrate that jobs with high social skill requirements have experienced greater wage growth than others—and both employment and wage growth has been strongest in occupations which require both strong social skills and high levels of cognitive skills. 


Creating Florida’s 2030 Workforce


-Deepen and Expand Cross-Sector Collaboration 

-Foster Opportunities for Targeted Skill Development that is Responsive to the Ever-Shifting Needs of a Global Economy. And ensure that Employers are aware that they can receive Workforce Opportunity Grants to pay for training and apprenticeships.

-Improve Statewide Career Awareness and Counseling: How about an 8-month Career Calendar at schools with one occupational cluster being featured each month, including entry level jobs, and levels of advancement including salaries for mid-level and higher paying jobs.

-Streamline Transitions between High School, Post-secondary, and Workforce

-Adopt a Data-Driven Approach to Meeting Florida’s Needs for a 21st-Century Workforce

-Expand Work-Based Learning Opportunities.  Business should offer high-quality work-based learning experiences to young people and adults. Florida’s business community can demonstrate its commitment to long-term talent development by offering work-based learning experiences that range from site visits, job shadows, and internships, to full-fledged apprenticeships. Through collaboration with our Walton Area Chamber of Commerce and/or the Walton County Economic Development Alliance, small businesses will also be able to offer such opportunities.  As Commissioner I will work to establish these relationships and opportunities.

-Foster Learners’ Development of Employability Skills. Businesses should communicate the importance of employability skills to Florida’s education and training communities and advocate for the prioritization of these skills. The voice of the business community can help elevate the importance of these skills and help ensure that education and workforce prioritize their integration within teaching and learning. To complement this, employers could:  

  • Participate with in-school experiences starting as early as early childhood education and elementary school; and 
  • Serve as active members in employer advisory boards at community or four-year colleges to provide guidance on what employers need from new entrants to the workforce.


Improve Statewide Career Awareness and Counseling 


Another important step to take is to improve the effectiveness of guidance and career counselors in all levels of education. We need to require State policymakers to officially recognize the difference between Guidance counselors (who focus on helping students with social and emotional needs) and Career counselors (who are dedicated to helping students plan for and prepare for careers). This is a significant distinction between counseling professionals. By making it explicit, policymakers could help other Florida stakeholders to understand and support the role of Career counselors. 


Jobs and Employment for Walton is a Campaign Issue


I’ve studied this question because we need a Commissioner who finds innovative solutions to our issues. The job of a Commissioner is not just about showing up to vote. With one-third of our County below the poverty level, we need to find a way to lift up everyone. I will be a New Voice, with New Leadership and a New Vision for this beautiful place we call home. Let’s make Walton work for everyone! Please Elect me on November 3rd to be your next District 5 Walton County Commissioner. Thank you!



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