Equipping Tomorrow's Space Technology Workforce

Equipping Tomorrow's Space Technology Workforce

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.

We Must Help Those Entering the Workforce Transition from the Relative Safety Of the tutorial Environment to the stress Of the Industry Workplace

As the space industry pursues innovations to extend productivity and reduce time to plug, new skill sets are emerging. Model-Based Engineering allows engineers to make digital twins of a proposed system and use these models to efficiently evaluate alternative designs and operational concepts. Beyond the new digital skills required, the interdisciplinary nature of those models demands expanded interpersonal skills for working with diverse sets of stakeholders – not a standard strength for engineers. Advances in AI and related fields, like machine learning, image recognition, tongue processing, expert systems, cybersecurity, and robotics, have enabled practical incorporation of those technologies into today’s systems. Engineers and technicians currently in today’s workforce often have little exposure to the planning principles and implementation practices related to these technologies.

What actions can we, as today’s space industry leaders, personally fancy help equip tomorrow’s workforce? First, we must inspire elementary, high school, and college students to pursue STEM-related careers. we will volunteer to talk to classes and function judges in science competitions, sharing our passion for the work and explaining tomorrow’s abundant, space-related career opportunities.

Second, we must mentor not only those entering the workforce but those within the pipeline. Fewer than 40 percent of scholars who declare a STEM major in college complete a STEM degree. We must help young professionals see the potential benefits of awaiting those that stick with their studies. We must help those entering the workforce transition from the relative safety of the tutorial environment to the stress of the economic workplace. Simultaneously, we must foster new work environments that appeal to the Millennials’ career needs and therefore the increasing numbers of minorities entering STEM – independence, flex time, and innovation in technology, processes, and business. Finally, we must embrace the concept of life-long learning. We must encourage today’s mid-career workers to require advantage of continuous education schemes – if only as a stop-gap to broader, long-term efforts to replenish the workforce. We must stop treating educational budgets as discretionary spending and encourage our staff to remain relevant in today’s knowledge-based economy.

Equipping tomorrow’s space technology workforce would require our brightest minds and most concentrated efforts. But isn’t it our mission to succeed in for the stars?

Weekly Brief

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