Springfield, MO—For some time now, many businesses have struggled to staff their companies. Both large and small businesses are struggling to fill and retain job vacancies. There is a lot of speculation as to the cause of this. From the effects of COVID, to a mass number of retirements, lack of childcare facilities, to the thinking that people just don’t want to work. Depending on where you stand on this issue, it appears to be a problem that does not have a quick fix. Employers are in a position where their corporate culture and benefits will play a big role in their ability to hire candidates. Let’s not forget that pay also plays a bigger part in the hiring process. So how do we navigate these issues?
According to a report completed by MOCAN (Missouri College and Career Attainment Network), the population in Missouri is changing. This change is happening both with age and demographic. While the population in the state is growing, the working-age population will likely decline. The working age for the report is 20 to 64 years of age. This group is projected to decline by 2.2 % by 2030. Missouri’s population growth through 2030 is projected to be in those under the age of 10 and over 65. This information shows that our population is aging. This means employers should look to retaining talent they already have. There are organizations out there right now that are working with employers to help them rethink how they support their employees that were traditionally thought to be on the road toward retirement. ProAge (a nonprofit based in the United Kingdom) reported that 65% of employees aged over 55 believed the jobs market is closed to them applying for roles and that 56% of workers over 55 wanted to work beyond the age of 66 and 1 in 4 wanted to work into their 80s. This information tells me that targeting a different demographic could benefit some employers.
Missouri is also becoming increasingly more diverse. The greatest amount of population growth is projected to be in those classified as two or more races. This can be seen in the demographic information of Springfield public schools. SPS is the largest school district in Missouri. Their students of two or more races are more than their African American students. The black population in Missouri is projected to grow by 54% by 2030 while the Hispanic population is projected to grow by 31%. What does this mean for Missouri? What does this mean for the smaller cities outside of Kansas City and St. Louis which have a larger percentage of diverse members of their communities? It means creating spaces and places where people can get connected and feel welcomed. Having employers that value inclusion and actively live out those values will be important to people relocating to Missouri.
The Wall Street Journal recently named Springfield as one of the top cities to work for remote workers in February of 2023. This was a big accomplishment for our community. Then on 5/16/2023 the Washington Post, reported on an SPS issue with a teacher using the n-word. National headlines that show a lack of cultural competence from community members and employees is a detriment to how our community is viewed by those that are outside of it. This can be a barrier to attracting qualified candidates for employment in our community. It can also be a barrier for large employers that have a diverse workforce.
There are outside opinions of this area of the country where some have viewed it as unwelcoming to people of certain cultures, demographics, and sexual orientation. I spoke to an employer once about barriers to hiring in Springfield and their response was a concern for people with different backgrounds and beliefs. They asked me; when people are recruited and move here…where is their safe space? As we continue to grow and focus on business and employment and building a city that will attract young professionals and retain them. We must also focus on creating a community where inclusion is for all people.
by Darlin Mabins
Multicultural Business Association