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New Report Says STEM Jobs Are On The Rise. But Can St. Louis Fill Them?

Image courtesy of St. Louis Community College

By 2022, employment in the STEM fields ― science, technology, engineering and math ― is projected to grow by 12.4 percent in the St. Louis region.

That’s compared to an expected growth of only 9.2 percent for non-STEM jobs.

Those are among the estimates provided in the sixth annual State of the St. Louis Workforce Report, released this week by the St. Louis Community College.

The interim president of STLCC’s Forest Park campus, Roderick Nunn, came up with the idea for an annual employer survey in 2009, in an effort to make the college’s programs more responsive to the region’s workforce needs.

The report usually covers all employment sectors, but this year it focused primarily on STEM jobs, which Nunn said pay more and are growing faster than jobs in other areas.

On the down side, St. Louis-area employers already are having trouble filling the jobs they have.

Nunn said the St. Louis region has many more STEM jobs than applicants. “And you look at something like construction or manufacturing, and the gap is the other way: more applicants than job availability,” Nunn said.

To produce the report, researchers conducted a telephone survey of more than 500 STEM employers in the St. Louis Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses 16 counties in Missouri and Illinois.

Credit Image courtesy of St. Louis Community College
According to the report, more STEM employers are looking outside the St. Louis region to fill their workforce gaps than employers in other sectors.

Nunn said employers were asked what they thought were the reasons for the shortage of local applicants for STEM jobs. “The lack of qualified new graduates in the discipline was a top response,” Nunn said. They also cited competition for qualified graduates from employers in other parts of the country.

To fill the workforce gap, employers said they either were hiring less experienced workers and training them or recruiting applicants from outside the St. Louis region.

Follow Véronique LaCapra on Twitter: @KWMUScience

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