Online job postings from August to January in the local information technology (IT), manufacturing, and healthcare sectors took a 5.8 percent dip from the same period the year before, according to a local workforce report released Wednesday.

However, each of the industries experienced increases in jobs from 2012-2017 and are projected to continue on that trend, the same report finds.

The report analyzed about 65,600 online job postings in the San Antonio-New Braunfels metropolitan area and was compiled by a combination of primary private sector sources and Economic Modeling Specialists, International, or EMSI, according to SA Works, which commissioned the report.

SA Works’ 2018 Jobs Report pulled top job postings in the area and aims to present a set of tools for carving out short- and long-term needs in the three major employment sectors, said Romanita Matta-Barrera, executive director of SA Works.

“We realized there wasn’t one San Antonio report that would be able to inform multiple stakeholders in terms of what is the job market is like in San Antonio,” Matta-Barrera said. “We engaged some of our community partners like the chambers [of commerce] as well as our own advisory council and other stakeholders, some of our higher ed institutions also to determine, ‘What would you like to see in a jobs report?’”

Matta-Barrera said the report focused on the three industries because they feature jobs with high economic mobility and apply to a variety of educational backgrounds.

She also said the report provides San Antonio residents an opportunity to assess local employment opportunities and requirements for those jobs. She also hopes the data will help guide the workforce development strategies in these industries – providing pathways for job-seekers while also identifying where local training providers should invest their time and money.

Oracle, H-E-B, USAA, the U.S. Air Force, Tenet Health, and Christus Health were among the most active job posters in the region during the analyzed period, according to the report.

The report also revealed that 17 percent of San Antonio-New Braunfels metropolitan area residents have a bachelor’s degree – two percentage-points lower than the national average. Additionally, 7.8 percent of residents hold an associate degree, slightly lower than the national rate of 8.2 percent.

Matta-Barrera said the study found that in the IT sector, most positions require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree. In addition, most employers require additional certifications, in such specializations as programming languages and software platforms.

“That really signals for me that having a well-prepared workforce is necessary for us to be able to retain those employers that are employing tech talent,” she said.

“It certainly is not enough [to have a bachelor’s degree] in the tech sector,” she added.

In the IT sector, the top job posting was for developers of software applications. More than 2,800 software developer jobs commanding an annual average wage of $104,050 were posted in 2017, the report found.

David Heard, who heads local tech sector advocacy group Tech Bloc, said the data confirms the upward trend experienced locally and nationally in the demand for a technically skilled workforce.

“The headline is it’s a growing industry. There’s a growing number of job postings and openings,” Heard said. “Certainly not all of the tech jobs that are out there get posted and are measured in this way. The trend shows all [postings] are up and will continue to go up, which we would strongly endorse as a general industry. There’s a lot of work to be done in terms of filling those positions.”

Rey Chavez, president and CEO of the San Antonio Manufacturing Association, said Wednesday his organization has noticed an increase in hiring, especially in transportation manufacturing – with an additional push from local vocational training organizations to prepare more people for the field.

“This report gives a good perspective of what is happening with the manufacturing industry and shows individuals are looking more at two-year degrees with national certifications that will give them the opportunity to get into great manufacturing careers that pay higher than the San Antonio average salary,” Chavez said in an email. “Additionally, without the college debt. It’s a win-win.”

With the continued expansion of health care services in San Antonio comes the need to staff the ever-growing list of facilities, which stood out to Brian Cleary, regional director of Favorite Staffing, as a takeaway from the report’s analysis of the healthcare sector.

“From what I can tell there’s been a push to open up more opportunities, but certainly more programs or larger enrollment will certainly help alleviate the shortage,” he said.

Cleary said the industry faces a shortage of instructors because master’s degrees are usually required.

“They typically don’t have enough instructors, and the pay is usually not that great,” he said. “More available seats in classrooms, more programs, more instructors – all of that will definitely help.”

Matta-Barrera said ultimately the hope is that the report can spur positive change in how the workforce in these industries is developed.

“We really want this to be a report that [prompts] action – action from our postsecondary institutions, formal colleges, and universities, as well as training providers, to really pivot and offer the industry-recognized certified recommendations in the report as identified by employers that are valuable to them,” she said.

To provide feedback on the report, SA Works is collecting input via email.

JJ Velasquez

JJ Velasquez

JJ Velasquez was a columnist, former editor and reporter at the San Antonio Report.