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Region 6

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Dr. Tristan Londre
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St. Louis Community College Releases 4th Annual Regional Workforce Study

Although the employment rate has improved in the St. Louis region since 2010, a skills gap in the workforce remains one of the top challenges for the local economy, according to the fourth annual State of St. Louis Workforce Report developed by St. Louis Community College. This morning, a panel of local employers discussed how they’re identifying ideal job applicants and finding ways to overcome the skills gap to fill open positions.

In this year’s report, 76 percent of employers said they hired less experienced workers and trained them with the skills they needed,” said Rod Nunn, vice chancellor for economic development and workforce solutions for St. Louis Community College, who also moderated today’s panel discussion. "The skills gap is one of the region’s most important economic challenges, and I was pleased to hear from four employers today who are making important investments to get the right employees, with the right skills, in the right positions.”

During the August 8th public presentation and panel discussion – attended by more than 400 business, education and civic leaders – representatives from The Boeing Company, Gateway EDI, BJC Healthcare and Gallus BioPharmaceuticals shared some of their talent acquisition and development solutions. According to this year’s "State of St. Louis Workforce Report,” one in three St. Louis area companies anticipates an increase in employment levels in the near term. However, those employers continue to find mismatches between job applicant skills and the job requirements for open positions. Many applicants aren’t "work-ready,” lacking the personal effectiveness competencies – often described as "soft skills” – needed to succeed in the modern work environment. Presenter Alan Spell, economic and workforce research manager for Missouri Economic Research and Information Center stated that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a sharp rise in job openings for June. Spell went on to say that skill mismatches prevented many of those jobs from being quickly filled.

To evaluate all factors affecting the region’s workforce, St. Louis Community College conducted four phases of research: an environmental scan of the St. Louis economy, an employer survey with more than 1,200 businesses in the region, six in-depth case studies and an analysis of surveys and focus groups with community college graduates.

Key findings from this year’s report include:

  • More than half of employers said recent hires lacked soft skills, specifically communication or interpersonal skills; work ethic; thinking and problem solving; and general knowledge of business or industry.
  • The 2012 report indicates optimism for job growth. 33.1 percent of employers reported plans to increase employment in the next year while only 6.8 percent plan to decrease employment.
  • Education plays a significant factor in unemployment and earnings, according to the report; unemployment rates drop significantly in St. Louis with each step up the educational attainment ladder.
  • A survey of 280 community college graduates from across the region showed 94 percent believed that the skills they learned improved their performance on the job.

Visit to download the complete 2012 State of St. Louis Workforce Report.


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