Gazing into the crystal ball

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October will be a busy month for the marine industry, as business leaders gear up for two major events that traditionally serve as key indicators for the coming year.

Hopes are high that the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show will be a turning point for an industry that is weathering the worst slowdown in many years. Some exhibitors are very optimistic, to the point that they’re trying to book more exhibit space. Others seem more cautious and say they’ll be happy with the same attendance as last year.

The other major event coming up is the International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition & Conference. As the U.S. marine industry’s largest trade show and the premier event for manufacturers introduce new products, IBEX will also help set the mood for the coming year. A key component of IBEX is the educational programs, so it seems fitting that this year’s event will include the Marine Industry Training and Education Council’s Conference on Marine Industry Technical Training.

As MITEC chairman Steven Kitchin says, work-force development is critical in a slow economy. With all the layoffs over the past year, marine companies may not have trouble finding skilled workers now, but that likely will change once the economy improves. And it will improve. Kitchin is right when he says marine businesses should take steps now to ensure they have enough highly trained workers for the future.

Look for stories on both IBEX and the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show in the October issue of Soundings Trade Only.

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