St. Louis Community College Releases 2016 State of St. Louis Workforce Report

By on August 11, 2016
St. Louis Community College Releases 2016 State of St. Louis Workforce Report

St. Louis Community College presented the eighth annual State of St. Louis Workforce Report highlighting key talent development issues for the region. The report, compiled by the college’s Workforce Solutions Group, includes an employer survey that tracks trends in employment, highlights hiring practices and gauges employers’ perceptions on a range of workforce issues. It also includes conversations with key industry leaders providing more in-depth understanding of the issues industry faces in addressing their employment and talent development needs.

The findings were released to nearly 400 business and community leaders at the college’s Forest Park campus. The event included a presentation of the findings and reactions by a panel of leading employers facilitated by Jeff L. Pittman, Ph.D., Chancellor, St. Louis Community College. Attendees had an opportunity to participate in small group discussions after the report. The event aired live on HEC-TV network.

The theme of this year’s report was “Manufacturing, Healthcare, Transportation and Logistics – Driving the Economy…Shaping the Workforce”. The report is focused on these key industry sectors important to employment growth in our region. It also highlights some differences between these industries in employment and workforce practices.

“This year we are focusing on three main areas: healthcare, manufacturing, and transportation and logistics. These are critical economic engines that drive a lot of things in our economy and MSA (metropolitan statistical area).,” stated Dr. Pittman at the event.

Dr. Pittman was joined by executives from companies representing each of the three industry sectors that were the focus of the 2016 report: Boeing, Mercy St. Louis, and FW Warehousing and Trucking. The findings of the report were presented by Alan Spell of the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, Missouri’s labor market information office.

In summary, key findings from the survey of 478 regional employers representing these industries:

  • Looking forward, more than four in 10 employers responding to the survey anticipate expanding employment over the next 12 months. Less than 2 percent anticipate decreased employment, including less than 1 percent of healthcare employers surveyed.
  • The shortage of workers with knowledge or skills continues to be the most frequently cited barrier to expanding employment, with 49 percent of employers responding. Government policies or regulations was cited by healthcare and transportation & logistics employers in greater frequency than past surveys of the general economy.
  • 45 percent of employers reported experiencing skill shortages in their industry and of those responding 54 percent reported offering increased wages to address the shortages.
  • Even within these higher skill industries, two of every three employers reported shortcomings in their job applicants including poor work ethic, lack of critical thinking and problem solving skills, and lack of communications or interpersonal skills.
  • 61 percent of manufacturing employers reported that lack of technical skills specific to the job was a shortcoming of job applicants while 61 percent of transportation & logistics employers reported the lack of general business or industry knowledge.
  • Lack of qualified new graduates in the discipline and increased competition for qualified graduates was most often cited as the reasons that employers had difficulty filling their skilled positions.
  • 85 percent of employers surveyed have positions on an established advancement pathway and 71 percent had positions which required only short term training, six months or less past high school.

“We are pleased to see that the improvement in the economy and the resulting increase in jobs is extended to these very important industry sectors for our region. We also acknowledge that, despite being high-skilled industries, they still face many of the same workforce challenges as all industries and we recognize their creativity in addressing them,” said Steve Long, St. Louis Community College’s Associate Vice Chancellor for Workforce Solutions.

As part of the 2016 State of the St. Louis Workforce, the college conducted interviews with key industry leaders from these sectors. Some of their comments include:


We have an aging population that is driving hospital admissions higher and higher while our experienced workforce continues to age. The experienced personnel are starting to retire and there are not enough people to replace them.
Mary Becker, Senior Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Communications, Missouri Hospital Association


We hear from manufacturing businesses that there is some difficulty in finding appropriately skilled people. The full answer might be to find ways to more accurately identify and attract appropriately skilled people at a labor cost competitive with the global marketplace.
John Hixson, Vice President, Defense and Advanced Manufacturing, St. Louis Economic Development Partnership

Transportation & Logistics

Another major advantage for St. Louis is the large number of workers employed in manufacturing among comparably-sized Midwestern cities. Due to the growing freight economy, the availability of skilled labor has become one of the most important factors in industrial site selection decisions. The St. Louis region offers a highly skilled and diverse workforce with core strengths in manufacturing, supply chain logistics and value-added distribution.
Mary Lamie, Executive Director, St. Louis Regional Freightway, Bi-State Development

“I would encourage everyone to download the full report. The data it provides is invaluable in speaking to the workforce barriers that affect the St. Louis region. The report outlines the opportunities for growth and employment in key industries important to our region’s future.” Steve Long, Associate Vice Chancellor, St. Louis Community College.

About the State of St. Louis Workforce Report

The report encompasses three key sections: analysis of available governmental data, an employer survey focused on hiring and workforce issues, and a summary of conversations with key industry leaders from manufacturing, healthcare, and transportation and logistics. Download the report at

About the State of St. Louis Workforce Panelists and Speakers

Jeff L. Pittman, Ph.D., Chancellor, St. Louis Community College; Donn Sorenson, East Region President, Mercy St. Louis; Obie Jones, Vice President, Quality and Manufacturing, Boeing Military Aircraft – St. Louis Site Leader; Jason Overbey, Chief Operating Officer, FW Warehousing; and Alan Spell, Research Manager, Missouri Economic Research and Information Center.

About Julie Lay

Julie Lay is the Director of Communications for St. Louis Community College.