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WiserU Pain Points Blog

The Pain Points blog shares strategies and tactics to solve talent shortages, as well as employer, job seeker, industry, and educational institution perspectives on the problem and how to solve it.

What If St. Louis Addressed The Tech Talent Shortage Better Than Any Other City?

Kathy Bernard

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In 2017, St. Louis pulled together a cohesive, region-wide plan to woo Amazon to our area for its second headquarters. Yet despite our best efforts, Amazon’s didn’t give St. Louis further consideration. Why?

Kathy Bernard will facilitate the next free Pain Points talent shortage panel discussion at Venture Café’s Thursday Night Gathering on February 28th from 4:30-5:30 pm in the Havana Room.

We Didn’t Need Amazon to Know We Have A Tech Talent Shortage

According to Amazon officials, it was largely because “St. Louis lacks a blueprint for talent” – meaning we don’t have a sufficient talent pipeline to fill the 50,000 openings that Amazon planned to hire. Providing that many additional workers would be a challenge for most cities, hence why Amazon ended up picking two cities for its second headquarters – Crystal City, VA and Long Island, NY (On Feb. 14, Amazon cancelled plans for the New York headquarters).

But realistically, St. Louis doesn’t have a robust enough talent pipeline to fill our own anticipated tech openings, much less staff Amazon’s second headquarters.

St. Louis expects a 10,000-person tech talent shortage by 2020 while the U.S. deals with a massive 1-million-person tech talent shortage at the same time.

Solving St. Louis’ Tech Talent Shortage

St. Louis is taking steps to gain more qualified applicants, but more must be done. Which leads to a question that if answered by decisive actions, could transform our community: What if St. Louis addressed the tech talent shortage better than any other city?

It would mean thriving businesses, better paying jobs, flourishing neighborhoods surrounding a vibrant downtown, and many more positive changes.

But how do we get there from here? It will take…

  • Area companies hiring and then training promising college and coding school graduates (as well as tech talent with outdated skills) so that they can become fully qualified

  • Colleges improving their hands-on coding coursework to ensure their graduates are truly ready for hire

  • St. Louis opening its eyes to hiring people of color, people with disabilities, veterans, and women into technology

  • Organizations retaining their employees by paying for them to attain technical certifications and degrees

  • Companies being more willing to hire talented immigrants graduating from our local universities

  • More programs, apprenticeships, and internships to radically increase the number and quality of applicants to fill expected openings

And finally, it will take what IT Recruiting Strategist Jason Boone said at a recent talent shortage panel discussion, “St. Louis employers should hire people who can do and not just those who have done otherwise we will continue to lose great talent to other cities.”