The latest report by the Aerospace Industries Association, authorized “The Defining Workforce Challenge in U.S. Aerospace & Defense”, classified complex challenges in keeping up with the highly trained and robust defense and aerospace workforce important to our nation’s security and economic prosperity. Root causes for the shortage include our aging baby boomer-dominated workforce, a significant shortage of STEM-ready college graduates, competition from other technology-driven sectors, and therefore the changing technology needs of our industry.
The aging workforce problem has reached critical mass. Constantly with the AIA report, over 40 percent of the skilled dealers within the aerospace industry have retired within the past few years. Fortunately, the impact of this loss has been relatively tempered by the shift to continued part-time add “retirement”. But, the magnitude of the loss requires a gentle talent stream of latest workers with the proper skills, aptitude, experience, and interest to fill the roles vacated by senior-level engineers and skilled technicians.
Despite numerous programs, initiatives, and campaigns geared toward attracting more students to careers in STEM, a big academic and skills gap remains. And for this dwindling crop of STEM graduates, the space sector sees increased competition from other technology-driven sectors. As cited within the 2015 Aviation Week Workforce Study, competition for particular engineering skills is widening and becoming more passionate as automotive, high tech, and oil and gas industry must expand.