The Southwest Florida economy is experiencing a rapid shift in population and subsequent need for health care services. Positioned in one the fastest growing regions in the State of Florida, Collier and Lee counties have seen an increase in population from nearly 20 percent to almost 28 percent, respectively, since the 2010 census. Projections for population growth, according to The Office of Economic and Demographic Research for the State of Florida, estimate that Collier and Lee counties will grow by 253,000 community members by 2035. Looking closely at the health care needs of our community, we note that over 30 percent of our community members are over the age of 65; the percentage of this demographic also is growing.
This increase in demand for health care services adds to the already strained health care delivery system where staffing challenges are compounded by workforce housing insecurity and other complicated social challenges. One of the greatest forces of change in our growing community is a nursing shortage which threatens our ability to provide access to care for the people in our communities. Where the threat exists, opportunities are presented, and one of these incredible opportunities is partnering with FutureMakers Coalition at Collaboratory.
The Healthcare System Strategic Alignment Team of FutureMakers Coalition began as a pilot in 2016 and consisted of regional health care employers, educators, local and state government agencies. Since that time, industries from almost every sector in the region have also experienced a high demand for skilled talent. We are focused on not only meeting the current staffing needs but closing workforce gaps by developing strategic, sustainable, career pathway programs to grow and advance the health care industry. The workforce ecosystem is a complex network of activities, processes and resources which can either create threats or opportunities for individuals to attain gainful employment of in-demand jobs. Our goal is to minimize the threats and increase the opportunities.