Hint: It’s called pay, benefits, and job security

Aviation Week & Space Technology is wringing its hands over the shortage of Aviation and Defense (A&D) workers.

Given that there is little job security, and pay and benefits have been declining for years, it’s not surprising that people are loathe to enter the field:

Uncle Sam’s contractors want you—and your sons and daughters. And at this rate, they could be eyeing the family dog. But perhaps they should expand their search.

From 737 gliders parked around the Seattle area to a $2.5 billion merger and acquisition (M&A) among Beltway Bandits orbiting Washington, headlines in the aerospace and defense sector lately have been replete with examples of workforce constraints manifesting in money terms. What is more, the Pentagon soon will unveil a review of the defense industrial base (DIB) that will spotlight concerns over talent recruitment and retainment.

The need for more technology-oriented workers and the difficulty in getting them is the talk of industry. Just this month, word came that Boeing was rehiring some of its retirees to help alleviate 737 production issues.


At the Farnborough Airshow in July, senior executives pondered how to recruit talent, especially managers, from other industries such as automotive. “Discussions at the air show confirmed concern about supporting an upturn in activity with the correct personnel in this competitive hiring environment,” ZRG’s report notes. The traditional approach of recruiting from the same sector has huge limitations, it was noted.

But Foster tells Aviation Week that the truism “Companies do not want to spend the time or money training new workers” ultimately holds for upper management as well as the factory floor. Everybody wants you to already know their industry, their company, she says.

Also, companies want managers in 45-55-year-old range, she says. Seasoned, but with growth potential. However, there is a deficit in that age range because not a lot of prime candidates were entering then. At the same time, older workers are eyeing the exits. “If there was ever a time to retire, it is now.” For starters, look at the stock markets. Besides, it can be increasingly hard to live a high-travel business life, Foster notes.

You spend 30 years sucking the marrow out of your workforce, and then you are surprised when your workforce goes away.

Modern American MBA mismanagement.

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