NRC Report: Issues Affecting the Future of the U.S. Space Science and Engineering Workforce:

Status Report From: National Research Council
Posted: Saturday, June 10, 2006


Committee on Meeting the Workforce Needs for the National Vision for Space Exploration, National Research Council

Full Report


"The committee's initial examination of relevant demographic data about aerospace workforce supply and demand led to the following conclusions. First, although there are currently some problems in meeting demand, particularly for specific skills, the situation for employers such as the DOD and the large aerospace companies is not now a major problem. Data on employment demand are difficult to obtain, particularly broken down by relevant skill areas, and those data and projections that exist are often ambiguous as one looks beyond the near-term future. Second, many longer-term projections do forecast a gap between supply and demand that is larger than exists today. However, the size and scope of the gap are not clear. Third, the problems with meeting future demand in the DOD are influenced by the need to employ U.S. citizens and permanent residents who can obtain security clearances. NASA's workforce pool will be constrained in a similar fashion as the DOD's because NASA must hire people who can work in areas controlled by ITAR. Fourth, people with strong technical backgrounds can often acquire the specialized knowledge to go into different (but related) fields. Consequently, recruitment need not be too tightly targeted to the momentarily required specializations. Finally, NASA's mono-generational employee age distribution (i.e., having a peak at only a single age; see Chapter 2) is different from the distribution seen for the DOD and industry, both of which were described at the workshop as being either bimodal or more nearly like the distribution of the U.S. workforce as a whole. However, so far NASA has only begun to examine skill distribution and is becoming aware that it has an age distribution problem, but the committee saw no indication that the agency has begun to act on this concern."

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