• Making St. Louis a Talent Hub with Accessible and Affordable Higher Education

    Feb 13, 2017

    The future of St. Louis depends on its talent—the human capital that serves as the true engine of our region’s economic development.  We know there isn’t a greater accomplishment than improving our region’s prosperity by investing in people and making sure that they have the skills and economic opportunity to realize their best selves.

    By 2025, nearly 60% of jobs in the United States will require a post-secondary degree.  St. Louis is lagging with only 40.9% of its adult population possessing an associate’s degree or higher.  Employers are competing for talent and people are seeking meaningful employment; however, the cost of post-secondary education is skyrocketing.

    Many students in our region seeking greater economic opportunity understand the value of a college education and are willing to bear the burden of student loans. At the same time, the staggering weight of these loans is among the most cited reasons why students drop out of college. It is clear that the current generation of college students are pursuing an education at a great financial risk.  This is an ugly truth we need to face with resolve.

    The reasons for high college costs are complex and multi-faceted. But there is an effort underway to improve higher education attainment and affordability in the region. A group of leaders from across our community came together last year to forge the St. Louis Regional Education Commitment, a document identifying clear paths to make St. Louis a top ten region for educational attainment by 2025.  This goal requires us to increase the number of people completing college degrees and choosing to live in the region by nearly 90,000 by 2025.  While ambitious, this goal is attainable. We cannot reach this goal if we do not tackle the issue of college affordability.

    In the next few months, the Chamber will convene business and higher education leaders to address the increasing cost of a college education. The presidents and chancellors of 18 regional colleges and universities are also working to build on the St. Louis Regional Education Commitment’s foundation and engage civic and business leaders in their efforts.

    This begins a series of blogs that will take an in-depth look into why college costs are rising, the existing efforts by higher education institutions and policy makers to curb these costs, and some solutions we can implement as a region.

    The simple truth is addressing higher education will take resolve from our entire community. We are looking for partners and champions who can help us think through potential solutions.  I invite anyone who is reading this to connect with me directly at glaposa@stlregionalchamber.com  or @glaposa on Twitter if you have ideas, recommendations, or questions as work on making college more affordable and accessible for all. 

  • How Investing in Education Benefits Businesses

    Jan 27, 2017

    If there was a benefit you could offer your employees leading to decreased talent management costs, increased employee retention, and had a 144% ROI, would your company offer it?

    A study conducted by Accenture, a global professional services company, found Discover Financial Services earned $1.44 for every dollar spent on tuition assistance programs for their employees. The cost savings mostly came from avoided talent management and training costs. During the study, Discover saw higher rates of employee retention and promotion as well as lower rates of absenteeism.

    The Discover case adds to the growing list of studies confirming that offering employees tuition assistance programs not only helps the company’s bottom line, but also increases employee loyalty and community involvement.

    These results substantiate what many companies and college completion advocates suspected all along – investing in employees benefits everyone.

    If St. Louis is going to become one of the Top 10 metropolitan areas in the country, we need to address our skills gap. In the 2015 State of St. Louis Workforce report, regional employers cited that the biggest barrier to expanding their workforce was a shortage of workers with knowledge or skills.

    Offering employees tuition assistance programs is the perfect way for employers to build an ideal workforce while looking out for their bottom line.

    Is your company interested in offering tuition assistance programs? View our Degrees That Work Employer Toolkit to find ways to support working adults.