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STLCC Presents 2017 State of the St. Louis Workforce Report

St. Louis Community College recognizes and supports the critical role that it plays in preparing the skilled workforce that the region needs to move forward in a complex and changing economic environment.

As part of its contribution to the region in addressing that challenge, today STLCC officials unveiled the findings of its ninth annual State of the St. Louis Workforce Report during a special event at the Forest Park campus.

Since 2009, STLCC and its research partners annually have tracked the recovery and growth of the region’s workforce, as well as its continuing challenges, through the research and production of this report. It has provided timely and critical workforce intelligence that has helped STLCC respond to the needs of its students and employer partners. It also has provided valuable information to the region’s many public, private and community-based organizations that are struggling to prepare or acquire the skilled workforce necessary to drive the economy forward.

“We hope that 2017 State of St. Louis Workforce Report provides information that will prove valuable to the St. Louis region as it continues to evolve and grow as a dynamic economy and job market, while offering opportunities to improve the lives of all of our citizens,” said Steve Long, associate vice chancellor for STLCC’s Workforce Solutions Group.

For 2017, STLCC surveyed nearly 1,100 employers in 15 different industry classifications that represent the St. Louis economy. The results of the survey continue to reflect expanding employment, with 42 percent of the responding employers anticipating increases in their employment level and only about 2 percent anticipating decreases. As with past surveys, most employers expect their employment levels to remain the same.

More than one-half of the employers from these industries indicate that the shortage of workers with knowledge or skill is the most significant barrier to expanding their business, while only about one-quarter indicate that economic conditions are a significant barrier. Nearly as many employers cited a lack of transportation access as a barrier as those citing economic conditions.

As in past years’ surveys, more than eight in 10 employers who reported a shortage of skilled applicants responded that they were forced to hire less experienced workers and train them. More than four in 10 employers who reported shortages said that they were offering increased wages due to the shortage of experienced workers.

Between 50 and nearly 60 percent of employers responded that they were seeing shortcomings in applicants to their positions that included poor work ethic, lack of communications or interpersonal skills, lack of critical thinking and problem solving, and lack of teamwork or collaboration.

The theme of the 2017 report is “Right in the Middle – Skills at the Center of the St. Louis Economy.” It focuses particular attention on middle-skill jobs, those that require education or training beyond high school but not a four-year degree. Individuals can prepare for these jobs in a variety of ways, including community college degrees and certificates, industry-recognized credentials, and formal and informal apprenticeships.

According to the National Skills Coalition, Missouri’s middle skill jobs represent 53 percent of all jobs in 2015 and will comprise 48 percent of job openings between 2014 and 2024. They are the only classification of jobs by skill level (low, middle and high) where the jobs (53 percent) exceed the supply of workers trained to that level (46 percent). Middle-skill jobs are critical to health care, information technology, and manufacturing, among others.

This year, the report features three regional initiatives for middle-skill jobs representing groups engaged in collaborative efforts to educate and train individuals for these opportunities in three different industries. These include:

  • LaunchCode, a locally and nationally recognized coding apprenticeship program that serves many of the most prominent information technology firms in the region and creates opportunities for hundreds of individuals to be trained or retrained for employment in this industry. LaunchCode also has a sharp focus on diversity through its programs, such as CoderGirl.
  • Building Union Diversity (BUD), a partnership between joint apprenticeship programs in the construction industry and local workforce and education institutions that helps guide and prepare the unemployed and underemployed for high-wage opportunities in construction. BUD also promotes the apprenticeship model across other industries and occupations.
  • Bio-STL and STLCC’s Center for Plant and Life Sciences at BRDG Park, which promote in-demand jobs in the growing life science industry in St. Louis through education and work-based learning. The goal is not only to increase employment, but also to build diversity within the industry.

The State of St. Louis Workforce Report is cosponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank. The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center compiled labor market information from public and private sources for the report.

To download the full report, click here.

To download a four-page infographic summary, click here.