2016 State of St. Louis Workforce Report

By on August 10, 2016
2016 State of St. Louis Workforce Report

As Associate Vice Chancellor for St. Louis Community College’s Workforce Solutions Group I recognize and support the critical role that the College plays in preparing the skilled workforce that our region needs to move forward in a complex and changing economic environment. As part of our contribution to the region in addressing that challenge we are pleased to present the 2016 State of St. Louis Workforce Report.

Each year since 2009 the College and its research partners have tracked the recovery and growth of our 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 St. Louis Community College respond to the needs of our students and employer partners. We also believe that it has provided valuable information to the region’s many public, private and community based organizations who are struggling to prepare or acquire the skilled workforce necessary to drive our economy forward.

This morning St. Louis Community College unveiled the findings of our eighth annual “State of St. Louis Workforce Report.” For 2016 the report focused on three key industry sectors important to sustaining and growing the region’s employment base: manufacturing, healthcare and transportation & logistics. Because of the special focus of this year’s report the survey sample differs from past years. Nevertheless, key findings from a survey of 478 employers from these industries align with previous survey findings including a continued steady increase in hiring with more than four in ten employers anticipating hiring increases and less than 2% anticipating decreases. Approximately 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. Healthcare and transportation employers also cited government policies or regulations as significant barriers.

45% of employers in this year’s survey report experiencing a skill shortage. Of those experiencing a shortage, over eight in ten responded that they were forced to hire less experienced workers and train them as a way to address the shortage. Nearly nine in ten manufacturing employers responded in this way. Over one-half of the employers reporting shortages also responded to offering increased wages due to the shortage of experienced workers, a significant increase from past years’ responses. About two-thirds of the employers surveyed responded that they were recognizing shortcomings in applicants to their positions including poor work ethic, lack of communications or interpersonal skills, and lack of critical thinking and problem solving. Over six in ten manufacturing employers also cited technical skills specific to the job as a shortcoming while the same proportion of transportation employers cited the lack of general business or industry knowledge.

For the second consecutive year employers were asked if they had “bridges to opportunities” in their businesses defined as jobs available with only short term training and jobs on established advancement pathways. About seven in ten employers from these industries responded that they had positions in their establishments requiring only short term training, about the same response as last year. However there was a somewhat slightly smaller percentage of jobs with this requirement as compared to 2015. 85% of employers responded that they had jobs which were on established advancement pathways, again a similar response rate to 2015 but, as with short term training, employers reported a somewhat smaller percentage of jobs on these pathways. For the first time in 2016 we asked employers about their primary considerations for advancing their employees. The most frequent response was “job experience” cited by more than one-third of the employers surveyed.

As part of this year’s report we included the results of more in-depth interviews with individuals who represent organizations that are moving the region forward to sustain and grow these important industry sectors. These include:

  • The Regional Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (RAMP), led by the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership. The goals of RAMP are to help the manufacturing industries in St. Louis adapt to new market opportunities, and to align regional business, educational and governmental resources to accomplish this task;
  • The Missouri Hospital Association is the industry association working with many regional healthcare organizations to address, among others, the workforce challenges of the healthcare industry; and
  • The St. Louis Regional Freightway, led by Bi-State Development and a consortium of regional transportation companies. The goal of St. Louis Regional Freightway is to leverage the strategic transportation assets of our region, including our central location and multi-modal facilities, to grow the transportation, distribution and logistics industry in St. Louis.

Today we continue this on-going discussion with the region that began eight years ago about the challenges of growing our workforce and creating opportunities for our citizens. To those who attended our event at our Forest Park Campus, thank you for being part of the conversation!

I would greatly appreciate your help in continuing this conversation in the community, specifically in your circles of influence. Please share the report with your personal and professional networks, or take part in the ongoing discussion about workforce training online at our blog and news site http://workforcesolutions.stlcc.edu/.

The report may be downloaded at STLCC.edu/STLworkforce.

About Steve Long

Steve Long is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Workforce Solutions for St. Louis Community College. Steve leads a successful corporate services unit providing contract training to St. Louis area employers since 1984, a community services unit providing grant based workforce and employment services including services to the local Workforce Investment Board, and many collaborative workforce development projects with a variety of community based organizations. He has previously served as the Director of Workforce and Community Development, the Director of Career and Technical Education and the Associate Director for the Center for Business, Industry and Labor of St. Louis Community College. Before coming to the College, Steve served as the Director of Industrial Education for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education where he led the development of Missouri’s first customized training program. He has also served in the Governor’s office as a budget and policy analyst for workforce development and directed employment and training centers under the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA). Steve brings over 35 years of experience in job training and workforce development to his profession. He has been a Board member and officer of many professional organizations including President of the National Council for Workforce Education (NCWE), one of the workforce councils under the American Association for Community Colleges (AACC).

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