Quality of Jobs Just As Important As Job Numbers

CareersThe top four companies in St. Joseph with the largest workforce are in the fields of human health, food production, education, and animal health. These employers are attractive because they offer many job positions in the local economy. But it’s not only the number of jobs they offer to the workforce, but the quality of those jobs.

Heartland Health/Mosaic Life Care is the largest employer in the region with 3,848 employees. Heartland’s recent changes in their healthcare organization reflect their innovative ideas in healthcare advancements and they continually look toward the future as they plan further expansion. The quality of care at Heartland is exceptional. In 2009, the organization was awarded the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award, America’s highest presidential honor awarded to organizations. Buildings don’t win awards, but the quality staff and their quality jobs are the strength of the organization.

Triumph Foods employs 2,838 people in a state-of-the-art facility. Scientists, accountants, and human resource professionals join the team of production workers in producing high-quality pork products for this global company. Professional educators make up the third largest group of employers for the St. Joseph School District, guiding and teaching the next generations in the community. The fourth largest employer is Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, which employs scientists, researchers, chemists, and over 900 employees that conduct the latest research in animal health.

Quality jobs are backed by quality workers. Without a workforce that is educated in the latest trends and technologies, quality jobs lose their impact for the community. In St. Joseph, there are many opportunities for educational and workforce growth. For higher education, Missouri Western State University (MWSU) provides four-year baccalaureate degrees and a growing number of Master’s degree programs. Institutes like Hillyard Technical Center, Vatterott College, and the American College of Technology provide hands-on experience for professions including construction, health, computer science, criminal justice, agriculture, landscaping, and automotive technology.

Dr. Harry Holzer, labor and economics expert at Georgetown University, says that communities should focus on workforce development systems to enrich their employees and create the most effective, successful companies. These workforce plans should also reach out to at-risk youth—those citizens who will be the next generation of workers in their community.

St. Joseph is fortunate to have groups like the St. Joseph Youth Alliance, United Way, Family Guidance Center and others who reach out to at-risk youth and disadvantaged adults and offer them programs on life skills and professional workforce skills. Through mentoring programs, the Youth Alliance helps those who may be disadvantaged in finding quality jobs. By training, guiding, and helping disadvantaged community members find and keep their place in the St. Joseph workforce, the Youth Alliance is building a better community. Similarly, United Way begins training little minds from their birth through education with programs like Success by Six.

St.  Joseph is a big city with small-town compassion. These local social welfare groups often combine their professional skills and work together to help the citizens and workplaces in St. Joseph and the Northwest region thrive. St. Joseph not only offers quality jobs, but helps its communities members keep learning and keep growing so they excel at being quality employees.