As changes in the workforce come about, so do changes in the need for specific education and training. The need for skilled healthcare workers in the St. Louis region has not gone unnoticed by St. Louis Community College.
In a strategic response to workforce needs, a rising demand for skilled nurses and healthcare professionals, and in looking toward the future, St. Louis Community College has announced plans to construct its first new academic building in nearly 20 years at the Forest Park campus – the Center for Nursing and Health Sciences. The state-of-the-art learning center will feature the latest technology, and will make a difference in the critical skills gap that exists with regional health employers.
The projected growth rate for healthcare jobs is 11 percent, in comparison to a five-percent growth rate for all industries. In the past year, there were nearly 20,000 posts for healthcare jobs.
The 2016 State of St. Louis Workforce Report revealed that 44 percent of healthcare employers note a shortage of knowledgeable and skilled workers. The report also revealed that more than 80 percent of healthcare employers say they’re forced to hire less experienced workers.
“The workforce is changing and the need for specific education and training is changing too,” said Dr. Jeff Pittman, chancellor of St. Louis Community College. “As a result, we must change as well. The Center for Nursing and Health Sciences is a strategic investment in our students’ future as well as the College’s. We must continue to evolve to best serve the St. Louis region.”
A first in nearly 20 years
The present building for health science was completed in 1968. Rather than renovate the existing building at a higher cost, it is more cost-efficient to construct a new site.
The $39 million building will have 96,000 square feet over four floors. The Center will have a dental clinic, modern science labs and classrooms, teaching areas and innovative space for learning. It will be a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, building. Construction begins February 2018. It is expected to be open for students and faculty for fall 2019.
The St. Louis Community College Board of Trustees approved an innovative financing structure that will allow the new building to have minimal impact on the operating budget. STLCC used a wrap-around structure to finance bonds for the new building. The College will only pay interest on the new bonds until existing bonds are paid off.
KAI Design & Build, established in St. Louis in 1980, will design the Center for Nursing and Health Sciences. The project team will be comprised of 85 percent minority business and woman business enterprises through KAI and its consultants.
The center is an example of the College’s strategic plan to focus its resources and improve in-demand education and training for students.
In early September 2017, more than 1,080 STLCC students declared a major in an allied health program.
The new center will allow STLCC to expand popular programs and to serve more students. This was a requirement for the building’s approval, as decreased community college funding from the state of Missouri, in the amount of $5 million, has required the College to respond effectively and focus resources on the programs, training and services that best serve students and their futures.