March 28, 2022
ST. LOUIS –BioSTL has completed the first comprehensive Labor Market Analysis for commercial bioscience in the St. Louis region, examining job demand and projecting what it will look like over the next 10 years in order to better prepare St. Louis and its workforce for jobs today and in the future.
Bioscience, comprised of plant, life, and medical sciences, are foundational to the St. Louis regional economy and its innovative capacity. These industries account for more than 19,000 payroll jobs – with average annual earnings at more than $116,000 – in 800 bioscience firms.
BioSTL’s Labor Market Analysis, presented on behalf of the BioSTL Coalition, uses the Biotechnology Innovation Organization’s (BIO) definition of biosciences, which counts 756 total occupations. Based on that definition, this Analysis focuses on commercial biosciences and, notably, does not include employment generated by universities or hospitals where significant bioscience research does take place within the St. Louis region.
Using public and proprietary data sources and bioscience stakeholder feedback, BioSTL’s Labor Market Analysis identifies current key challenges and areas for future action. This Analysis, conducted by EXCEED’s Dr. Mark C. White and Alan Spell for MU Extension, is a first step in building the foundational knowledge needed to inform workforce development for the sector, help employers find the talent they need, and enable people to access and succeed in bioscience careers. The Analysis identifies jobs that are unique to St. Louis and provides tangible examples of programs and efforts to meet current challenges and plan for the future.
“BioSTL commissioned this comprehensive commercial Labor Market Analysis to ensure that our regional bioscience workforce strategy prioritizes demand-driven systems and initiatives that support St. Louisans in securing and retaining quality jobs,” said Justin Raymundo, BioSTL’s Director for Regional Workforce Strategy.
While the St. Louis bioscience industry depends on a higher level of skilled workers than the average regional employer, strikingly, 47 percent of current job openings are for middle-skill jobs, primarily in manufacturing and sales.
“Nearly half of the jobs in the bioscience sector are attainable without a four-year degree,” Raymundo said. “With a short-term, technical training program, people can secure jobs with sustaining wages and significant opportunity for career mobility in a high-demand field.”
Short-term training programs like the Biomanufacturing Research and Technical Training course launched last year with St. Louis Community College and Thermo Fisher Scientific are designed to help strengthen local talent to fill the growing job opportunities. Bioscience employers are projected to have 1,400 annual job openings over the next decade in the areas of research and testing, bioscience-related distribution, agricultural feedstock and industrial biosciences, and drug, medical device, and equipment manufacturing.
The Analysis concluded that the region’s post-secondary institutions are well-equipped to educate new workers and train incumbent workers through a variety of degree and certificate programs. Yet, talent shortages and a need for more STEM-educated and skilled workers, as well as greater diversity in the workforce to broaden the potential talent pool, stood out as regional challenges facing St. Louis bioscience industries. Stakeholders also noted ongoing recruitment challenges, such as students lacking awareness about available jobs, along with a persistent lack of student demand for STEM and manufacturing programs.
The Analysis highlights that securing the resources needed to strengthen and expand the region’s bioscience workforce requires ongoing collaboration. Efforts need to be tailored to specific job groups, as different stakeholders need to address different workforce issues.
“The findings in the Labor Market Analysis emphasize the importance of skills attainment,” said Sam Fiorello, CEO of the Cortex Innovation Community. “But that alone will not provide equitable access to employment opportunities across our region. To help close the opportunity gap, we must also ensure that those jobs are quality and that we have affordable education, on-the-job learning, and supportive services such as childcare or transportation.”
This analysis was supported by BioSTL, the backbone organization for St. Louis’ bioscience sector. Supporting project sponsors include: The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, BRDGPark, Cortex Innovation Community, 39 North Innovation District, and the Saint Louis University – Sinquefield Center for Applied Economic Research.
Since 2001, St. Louis nonprofit BioSTL has laid the foundation for the region’s innovation economy with a comprehensive set of transformational programs that advance St. Louis’ leadership in solving important world challenges in agriculture, medicine, healthcare, and other technology areas. BioSTL has introduced nationally acclaimed initiatives in startup creation and investment (BioGenerator), strategic business attraction (GlobalSTL), physical environment (including the Cortex Innovation District and BioGenerator Labs), entrepreneur support, seed and venture capital, a diverse and inclusive workforce, and public policy. Find us online at biostl.org and follow us on twitter @BioSTL.
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