1000 Years of History Lost: Aerospace’s Talent Shortage

1000 Years of History Lost: Aerospace’s Talent Shortage
August 28, 2019

By Craig Anderson, New Discovery Co-founder

I recently attended the Arizona Technology Council AADM conference where a discussion panel tackled the topic of Aerospace talent loss. We heard from manufacturing companies that can’t find qualified technicians. As a result, growth opportunities are being missed every day.  Similarly, other conversations explored the magnitude and impact as airlines face a constant pilot shortage. This dialogue made me wonder what talent shortages Aerospace managers are experiencing in professional roles – engineering, supply chain, marketing, etc. Later in the conference, the keynote speaker provided a provocative insight to this question.

After the “Future of Aerospace” presentation by Mike Stewart, keynote speaker and Honeywell Aerospace Technology VP, I posed this question. “Are you seeing the same talent shortages in aerospace professional roles as discussed in the panel?”  His answer shocked the audience.  Mike said, “I will lose 1000-years of history this year.”  His reference point illustrates the years of professional experience being lost through retirements.  Consequently, each time an Aerospace professional with 30 to 40 years of experience decides to retire, the industry’s expertise diminishes. Like technicians and pilots, aerospace professionals are leaving at an alarming pace.

Supporting Mike’s reality, the AIA’s report examining the Aerospace workforce challenge concludes “…the growing number of retirement-eligible employees remains one of the industry’s most pressing concerns.”  To summarize, the report discusses how a better STEM strategy needs to be adopted. And, it acknowledges “replacing these workers…will take 10 to 20 years.”  The astronomical hiring challenge facing Aerospace and Defense companies in the coming years will require long and short-term solutions.

Certainly, many of the STEM workforce development programs in high schools, universities, and company-sponsored organizations provide the needed building blocks to address the industry’s long-term talent needs. However, near-term solutions are required as the growing talent gap accelerates in the next five years. Retaining Aerospace and Defense professionals within companies will require new strategies including phased-retirement plans and knowledge management systems. Other innovative solutions, e.g. industry-specific expert networks, are needed to retain Aerospace professionals and make them readily available to all companies.

By retaining 1,000-years of history, 1,000 times over, Aerospace’s talent shortage can be managed.

To learn more about how New Discovery is addressing this challenge through its Aerospace Expert Network, contact us today.