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Executive Summary

The effects of the recession are still being felt. These past few months have seen U.S. markets rise and fall, tepid job growth across the nation, and housing prices continue to nose dive. Be it a company or individual, this recession spared no one and has spurred a critical examination of how we build a stronger economy together. In such challenging times the third annual State of St. Louis Workforce Report could not be more relevant. A theme of Moving Forward, a proactive effort championed by the St. Louis Community College to better understand how employers, education and training providers, and job seekers can collaborate for accelerated recovery, guided the efforts of this study.

The first section of this report discusses characteristics of the region’s working population. A snapshot of real time vacancies, employment trends, target industries, and education requirements for future jobs in the region is also provided.

Sections two and three report the findings of the two surveys conducted and case study research designed for the State of St. Louis Workforce series.

The Employer Survey of 1,218 companies was designed to collect business opinions about industry conditions, regional labor pools, hiring strategies and talent development. Key findings suggest that companies, while geared for growth, are moving forward cautiously in the short term. Uncertainty about government regulations is a major hindrance to company growth. While the regional labor pool has sufficient numbers and technical skills, employers report having a hard time finding ‘work ready’ applicants with the personal effectiveness competencies necessary to adjust to the rigor of professional environments.

A Dislocated Workers Survey of 408 job seekers was designed to capture the worker profile including: employment history, education, and career goals. It focused on interests, challenges to re-employment, and barriers to pursuing training. This recession, more than any other in recent history, has impacted a wider spectrum of occupations and industries. Workers are less optimistic about gaining employment. Due to a strong attachment to place, workers are less willing to relocate to find new employment and the housing crisis further complicates such moves. Therefore job seekers are requesting assistance from career services to find employment and / or receive affordable training that is necessary to improve job prospects.

Our investigations reveal signs of optimism for the future. Employers must continue to partner with area education and training providers so that developed curricula packages technical expertise with academic competencies to ensure quality of future talent. Job seekers must understand the value employers place on professional fundamentals in addition to the technical skills needed for success at the workplace.