Writer: Max Crampton-Thomas
2 min read June 2021 — CareerSource Palm Beach County specializes in finding talent for businesses in the county and building relationships that match job seekers with the perfect fit in the industry. President and CEO Julia Dattolo spoke with Invest: about the company’s growth despite the pandemic.
What were some of the ways that CareerSource Palm Beach County continued to have success in spite of the pandemic?
When the pandemic hit, we stopped what we were doing and pivoted this company completely to a virtual platform. Within a week, everybody in our company had a laptop and a cellphone. Our webpage became a user-based website for clients. While our front doors may have been closed, we never stopped working and continued to help our clients. We helped more people in a very short two-month period than we had in the previous two years. People were definitely in need of help and we were able to provide it.
How did you find jobs for people once the lockdowns eased up?
There were certain industries that still needed people and they started to open up jobs, albeit slowly. However, unlike Broward and Miami-Dade, Palm Beach County has a more diverse economy, with businesses from various industry sectors, that made reopening Palm Beach County easier.
The majority of our jobs are already opened and filled. 88% of the number of jobs have already come back since the period of highest unemployment in 2020. We are having difficulty filling all of them because some people are still not comfortable coming out of their homes.
Why is there such high unemployment in some sectors and yet continued demand for labor as well?
When you look at the jobs, they were already there. They just weren’t being filled because of COVID or because some companies cut back on their workforce. Now that the community has opened up and we are open for business, all the jobs have flooded back into the market. We’re trying to get people into those jobs sequentially. Some people may have children at home or might not have had the immunization yet, and since they are not ready to come to work, there is now an imbalance.
What role has CareerSource Palm Beach County played as a community resource for the region?
We’ve been a connector in every sector. We’re putting people back in jobs by connecting our talent with the businesses. That is our mission, and we accomplish that through virtual job fairs, industry-specific recruiters and word of mouth. We have a youth and young-adult program that is putting youth into internships and jobs. We awarded $12.2 million in grants to businesses and employees for job training and educational assistance during the past five program years. We also awarded over $2.2 million dollars this year in education scholarships, to help upskill our workforce.
Which sectors are looking even stronger than they were pre-pandemic and what others are lagging behind?
Many sectors lost jobs and they are all coming back stronger. Palm Beach County is already quite diverse, but since the pandemic, many more companies have moved or are in the process of moving here. The main sectors experiencing this expansion are financial, hospitality, business support services, education, construction and healthcare.
What is unique about Palm Beach County and what are the challenges?
Palm Beach County is a picture postcard, it is a great place to live and work. It’s everything all in one: you have every industry here, a diverse labor force and literally no personal income taxes. Palm Beach County also has a lot to offer in terms of its education system, both public and private.
The affordability of housing is one of the biggest concerns in Palm Beach County. If you’re bringing your company to Palm Beach County, you have to think about what you can afford and what is available here. When companies come here, among the things they look for is the location for their company and where their employees will live, where their children will go to school and where they will receive their healthcare services.
Right now, we are building a huge community with thousands of homes in the northeast sector of our county. Wherever companies are moving into our county we address these factors.
What does business travel look like for your organization going forward?
Companies are starting to have their breakfast, lunches, dinners and conferences again. I know that our convention center and our professional conferences are already scheduling events starting in the fall. They are still cautious now, but by 2022, we expect there will be at least 50% more business travel than during the pandemic.
What is your near-term outlook?
I am really excited for the fall. By the end of summer, COVID should be close to a conclusion; we’ll still need to be safe about it but we’ll be able to handle it.
Palm Beach as a county works well together. We all work hand in hand and we are a very tight collaborative community. Whether you are in the nonprofit world, government or in business, we all sit at the table and solve our problems together.
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