• St. Louis Regional Chamber Releases Findings on Region’s Top Workforce Gaps

    Mar 14, 2019

    Bridging the Talent Gap Social Media 1080x1080-100The St. Louis region’s employers are facing workforce shortages in key job types, according to the results of a large employer-based survey and report released today by the St. Louis Regional Chamber. Representatives from the business community, educational and workforce training institutions and community organizations gathered at the Chamber Thursday morning to reveal the survey findings. Chamber President & CEO Tom Chulick and other community leaders also issued a call-to-action for businesses, educational institutions and community organizations to provide more opportunities for students to access in-demand education and training programs.

    “The St. Louis region needs more in-depth and meaningful collaboration between higher education institutions and businesses,” said Chulick. “Not just for the benefit of our economy, but also for our residents. We want students to know where the high-wage jobs are, what kind of industries are hiring and how our local colleges, universities and training programs can get them there. If we focus on the data and develop more effective partnerships between businesses and education, we as a region can be responsive and even proactive in addressing workforce gaps.”

    The St. Louis region was one of 28 metro areas selected to conduct the “Bridging the Talent Gap” survey and a total of 289 respondents participated. Since “Bridging the Talent Gap's” inception in 2016, St. Louis had the greatest number of respondents ever logged – 24 percent more respondents with usable data than the second most active city. Greg Laposa, Chamber Vice President of Education Strategies, suggests “St. Louis’ high number of respondents demonstrates how critical workforce and talent gaps are to area employers.”

    An executive summary and full report are based on surveys administered to Human Resources professionals and other business leaders in the St. Louis region from September 4, 2018 - January 31, 2019. Key findings included: 

    • Seventy-six percent of survey respondents described the economic conditions in their community as positive. Of the industries most represented in the survey, the finance and insurance sector held the most optimistic view (91 percent).
    • Eighty-six percent of respondents reported that their respective companies are preparing for moderate to high growth in the next 3-5 years. Among industries most represented in these categories, 100 percent of the retail, healthcare and construction groups anticipated moderate to fast growth.
    • Among all respondents, 94 percent are hiring for full-time positions. Seventy-five percent of employers find it difficult to recruit for certain positions, while 52 percent say it is difficult to retain certain positions.
    • Key in-demand positions that area employers found more difficult to fill include engineers, scientists, high-skilled medical professionals and those in the skilled trades. These jobs are those that typically require specialized higher education and/or training, highlighting the need for increased collaboration among businesses and higher education and workforce training organizations.
    • Businesses agreed that an educated workforce will help them meet their goals. While more than half of regional businesses (56%) offer financial support to employees to help them pursue their educational goals, many more are willing to partner with higher education institutions in the future (80%).

    St. Louis’ low unemployment rate is below the national average, which is great news for job seekers.

    But the job market can be too tight for industries like technology, health care and engineering to find enough qualified applicants to fill key jobs. The Regional Chamber called upon businesses, educational institutions and community partners to continue to adopt data-driven workforce strategies and partnerships that align with job demand today and in the future.

    “The Chamber has an important role to play in addressing workforce needs in industries that give St. Louis a competitive edge,” said Chulick. “We intend to play a leading role in bringing partners together to collaborate, coordinate and ultimately drive action to bridge our region’s talent gaps.”

    Read the full report here.

  • Missouri Fast Track Workforce Incentive Could Lead the Way For Adult Students

    Feb 06, 2019

    Missouri faces an economic crisis. Roughly two-thirds of jobs require a postsecondary education but nearly 40% of our adult population possesses the necessary credentials. Not only does this gap harm an individual’s economic mobility, but it harms Missouri’s ability to compete for new businesses, talent, and economic opportunities. State leaders including Governor Mike Parson, Department of Economic Development Director Rob Dixon, Higher Education Commissioner Zora Mulligan, and State Workforce Development Director Mardy Leathers have traveled across Missouri to gather input to develop a strategy for confronting this crisis. With the goal of making Missouri “Best in Midwest,” these leaders developed a clear strategy to move our state forward.

    One initiative that emerged from this work is the Missouri Fast Track Workforce Incentive grant program, a program proposed by Senator Gary Romine in Senate Bill 16 and Representative Kathy Swan in House Bill 225. This $22 million grant program would fund postsecondary education and training for “nontraditional students,” particularly adults 25-years-old and above, who are Missouri residents with an income less than $80,000 in high-need disciplines.

    The St. Louis Regional Chamber believes Missouri Fast Track Workforce Incentive grant program has the potential to transform our state’s economy and empower our workforce. Considering the shifting state of our economy, we need a skilled workforce made up of resilient, life-long learners; however, we can only create such a workforce by expanding our definition of “student.” Today’s students include adults over the age of 25 who are pursuing education and training part-time. Adult students need flexible higher education programs, greater support from employers, and access to financial aid that supports their education and career goals.

    By investing in adult education, the Missouri FastTrack Workforce Incentive grant program creates economic opportunity while meeting the workforce needs of business. By creating more pathways to in-demand occupations, the state is addressing one of the greatest pain points employers face today: filling thousands of jobs that go unfilled in a tight labor market.

    The Regional Chamber also supports investment in adults as a critical pathway to our regional workforce goals. In 2018, the Regional Chamber launched Gateway to Degrees, a program designed to ensure more adults in our region complete postsecondary education. In St. Louis alone, we have about 400,000 adults over the age of 25 who have some college education but never finished their degree. Gateway to Degrees is currently supporting 60 clients, providing them free, neutral college advising services so they can choose the best program that aligns to their personal and professional goals. Gateway to Degrees is also working with partners in business and higher education to align support for adult learners in our community.

    The Missouri Fast-Track Workforce Incentive grant program will help the St. Louis region and the state of Missouri advance its shared goals of increasing adult degree attainment. The St. Louis Regional Chamber stands with Governor Parson and state leaders seeking to make the Missouri Fast-Track Workforce Incentive grant program a reality to meet our state’s talent needs of today and tomorrow.