On November 1, 2017

The St. Louis Top 10 Educational Attainment Initiative to Attract More Employers and Grow Local Jobs

How can the St. Louis Region boost itself to the top ten of the nation’s metros based on our number of adults with bachelor degrees or higher? This is a relevant question as St. Louis competes against other U.S. metro areas to be the site of Amazon’s second headquarters.

Stakeholder Insights marketing research firm led opinion leader discussions for the St. Louis Regional Chamber in 2016 to identify top priority actions to help 400,000 local working adults with some college education complete their degrees. More St. Louis residents with advanced education will attract more companies here and help existing employers expand.

The St. Louis Regional Chamber’s goal:

By 2025, 40% of adults in St. Louis will possess a Bachelor’s degree or higher and 10% of adults will possess an Associate’s degree.

Research objectives: Small group discussions among professionals serving members of each education attainment pathway were convened:

  • To identify factors that inhibit – or represent barriers to – educational attainment within five subgroups or pathways to the same goal:        current students (pre-K-graduate students); college graduates; working adults; unemployed or underemployed adults; military veterans
  •  To identify potential approaches and solutions to the problems posed by barriers in each pathway
  • To identify factors that influence graduates to stay in – or to leave – the St. Louis region as job holders, residents and community members

Key findings:

Barriers to entering educational programs:

  • Insufficient communication from both the education and business communities to prospective students about opportunities for education
  • Insufficient communication within the same institution concerning opportunities and application procedures
  • Prospects seeing themselves as NOT fitting in with college culture and routines and lacking in self-confidence
  • Lack of financial resources to seriously consider college as a viable option
  • Financial assistance opportunities that are left on the table
  • Many prospective students don’t see the value of college education when they perceive they can earn a decent salary without the need for a college degree

Actions to address barriers that are underway:

  • Improving collaboration and alignment among higher educational institutions to facilitate academic credit transfer
  • Tailoring special recruiting efforts to groups like working adults and veterans that address their different needs and challenges
  • Offering more functional orientation to online courses and procedures
  • Preparing and deploying stronger cadres of college counselors or navigators
  • Including mid-market companies in plans for advancing educational attainment
  • Encouraging employers to use the strategies in Degrees That Work http://degreesthatworkstl.com/
  • Promoting longer-term educational attainment as a key to getting better jobs and careers

Strategies for increasing retention of college graduates in our region:

  • Promoting St. Louis as a dynamic and innovative region
  • Increasing the number of available internships
  • Communicating more effectively about job availability (Read about Better Weekdays https://www.betterweekdays.com/ a Regional Chamber partnership)
  • Using alumni as promoters of educational attainment in schools and elsewhere, and as ambassadors for the region and its career opportunities
  • By Sandy Dye  0 Comments   


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