2017 State of St. Louis Workforce Report

By on August 9, 2017
2017 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 2017 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 ninth annual State of St. Louis Workforce Report. For 2017 we surveyed nearly 1,100 employers in fifteen different industry classifications that represent the St. Louis economy. The results of the survey continue to reflect expanding employment with 42% of the responding employers anticipating increases in their employment level and only about 2% anticipating decreases. As with past surveys, most employers expect their employment levels to remain the same.

Over 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, over eight in ten 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 ten employers who reported shortages said that they were offering increased wages due to the shortage of experienced workers.

Between 50% and nearly 60% of employers responded that they were seeing shortcomings in applicants to their positions including 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% of all jobs in 2015 and will comprise 48% 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%) exceed the supply of workers trained to that level (46%). Middle-skill jobs are critical to health care, information technology, and manufacturing, among others.

As part of this year’s report we feature 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 serving many of the most prominent information technology firms in the region and creating 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 like CoderGirl.
  • Building Union Diversity (BUD), a partnership between joint apprenticeship programs in the construction industry and local workforce and education institutions to help guide and prepare the unemployed and underemployed to high wage opportunities in construction as well as promote the apprenticeship model across other industries and occupations.
  • Bio-STL and St. Louis Community College at BRDG Park, promoting in-demand jobs in the growing life science industry in St. Louis through education and work-based learning with a goal of not only increasing employment but building diversity within the industry.

For the first time in 2017, the State of St. Louis Workforce Report is co-sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank. We appreciate their help and interest in the important topic of preparing our future workforce and addressing the challenges of the skill shortage. We also appreciate the invaluable help from our partners at the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center who compile labor market information from public and private sources.

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.

Download the full report, or 4-page infographic summary, 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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