Press Release

Annual Report Shows Continued Strength of Aerospace & Defense Workforce

By SpaceRef Editor
September 12, 2019
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The American aerospace and defense (A&D) industry continues to drive the U.S. economy and support high-paying jobs, but the industry must redouble hiring and recruiting efforts to maintain its role as a global leader, according to the Aviation Week Network’s 2019 Workforce Study Report released today. The study – conducted in partnership with the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and PwC – surveyed young professionals in the industry, college engineering students, and 26 A&D companies to help provide a clearer picture of trends in the A&D workforce.
A burgeoning commercial space industry, continued demand for U.S.-built commercial aircraft, and increased federal budgets have all contributed to the A&D industry’s continued growth. This success also brought job opportunity, with A&D outpacing its 2018 hiring projection by more than 86%. The industry’s average wages also increased at a higher rate than the national average.
However, there is still room for the industry to grow, especially when it comes to diversity and inclusion. While women hold senior leadership roles at a number of the industry’s largest companies, women represented just 23% of 2018 new hires. In addition, Hispanic Americans and African Americans accounted for only seven percent and eight percent, respectively, of last year’s new hires.
“Strengthening and expanding our industry’s workforce is and always will be a top priority,” said AIA President and CEO Eric Fanning. “We must continue to find new ways to tap into all the country’s available talent and keep them in our industry if we want to remain the world’s leader and meet the challenges of the future.”
The survey results included the following:
Hiring and Wages
Driven by greater production in manufacturing and the need for expertise in emerging technological areas (including artificial intelligence and autonomy), industry hiring increased beyond expectations in 2018.
A&D companies plan to hire 55,000 to 75,000 people or more in 2019, not only in traditional manufacturing, but those with skills in vital areas, from software to models-based engineering.
Aerospace and defense industry jobs are well-paying and competitive, with wages increasing over the previous year by 3.9% for the average software engineer and more than 17% for the average entry-level manufacturing worker.
A&D workers are more likely to stay with their employers than the general U.S. workforce, with the industry’s attrition rate lowering to 5.4% compared to the overall country’s eight percent. Young professionals currently working in A&D also have a positive view of the industry: 81% would recommend an industry career in general to a friend or relative.
Unfortunately, diversity in the A&D workforce remained relatively static, but there is significant opportunity to increase diversity, as 55% of black students, 49% of Hispanic/Latino students, and 48% of female students expressed an interest in A&D careers. This must continue to be a focus of the industry going forward.
Internships and Reskilling
The industry is also taking steps to recruit the workforce of tomorrow. Industry internships clearly offer a fertile recruiting ground, with 83% of interns accepting full-time offers. But, as the study notes, those internships could be offered sooner, since 72% of sophomore college students surveyed are interested in A&D opportunities.
Hiring new workers can’t be the only priority. As AIA’s Vision 2050 report showed, A&D workers are going to need different and more expansive skills than ever before – including those workers who are already part of the industry. Companies recognize that reskilling offers a significant opportunity to meet this demand, which is why 34% of the workforce took part in some form of reskilling in 2018. Given the growing need of advanced skills, that number will likely grow in the coming years.

SpaceRef staff editor.