Key Trends and Challenges in Aerospace Staffing

Key trends and industry challenges are increasing the demand for aerospace staffing. As a result, many employers are having difficulty finding skilled talent to fill open roles.

Industry growth and technology are driving the demand for aerospace staffing. Also, changing employee expectations are shaping compensation, benefits, and learning and development opportunities.

Due to the tight labor market, many companies are shifting to a skills-based talent management model. Also, many employers are turning to aerospace staffing firms to fill job vacancies.

Industry Growth and Technology Drive Demand for Aerospace Staffing

The need for aerospace staffing is increasing due to industry growth and technology:

Commercial aerospace and air travel recovery

Commercial aerospace and air travel continue to recover from coronavirus pandemic-related lows. Commercial aircraft manufacturing and growth in maintenance, repair, and operations spending indicate the industry is heading toward full recovery.

Growing demand for aircraft engines

Improvements in global supply chains support the commercial aviation industry’s ability to build and procure engines. Also, book-to-bill metrics indicate order growth in commercial and private aircraft spaces. These factors increase the demand for engines and components.

Growing commercial space industry

Increasing investments in space exploration and changing public-private partnership models are transforming the commercial space industry. As a result, aerospace companies are filling the demand to ease the backlog of work.

Aerospace Staffing Challenges

Aerospace companies are having difficulty finding qualified talent to meet demand growth. For instance, although many senior aerospace professionals are retiring, there are few candidates with the right skills and clearances to replace them.

Changing employee expectations

Employee expectations are changing, further adding to aerospace staffing challenges:

  • Competitive compensation, well-being benefits, and flexibility are in high demand.
  • Employees want employer-sponsored learning and development opportunities.
  • Employees look for companies whose mission, vision, and values align with their values and beliefs.

These expectations offer unique challenges for companies that rely on worksite security, specialized skills, and touch labor.

Diverse aerospace workforce challenges

The impact of and reaction to challenges with hiring, compensation, and retention vary among aerospace industry leaders and smaller suppliers. For instance, many larger companies are creating headcount reduction plans to reduce labor expenses. However, because primes and their suppliers have symbiotic relationships, companies of all sizes must attract and retain talent to maintain the health of the aerospace ecosystem.

Aerospace talent attraction and retention

Aerospace executives must form strategic plans to attract and retain talent. These plans should include handling workforce reduction due to an unstable economic environment.

Volatility in the talent market during the past few years has increased the need for talent attraction and retention. For instance, PwC’s 2022 Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey found that college graduates aged 18-25 were three times more likely to quit their jobs during the previous 12 months than their baby boomer counterparts. These graduates make up a key demographic of the aerospace workforce.

Growing demand for critical aerospace skill sets

Aerospace companies face unprecedented demand for talent with specialized skills. As a result, executives must build their workforces to meet strategic and operational demands.

For instance, commercial aviation companies are focused on innovation while producing near-term aircraft deliveries. These companies also are attracting business-as-usual talent while expanding their capabilities in areas such as connected aircraft with a specialized workforce.

Rapid growth in the space sector increases the need for enhanced launch services and satellite manufacturing. Therefore, the need for specialized engineering and emerging technology talent is increasing. For instance, candidates with niche experiences in areas such as zero-gravity engineering and reentry systems are in high demand.

Customizing Human Resources Programs to Fit Aerospace Employee Needs

Aerospace employees want compensation, benefits, work arrangements, educational support programs, and additional incentives that consider their unique experiential differences and needs. Therefore, employers must address these needs to compete for top talent.

Redefining the employee value proposition

The aerospace employee value proposition could be modified to support attraction and retention:

  • Human resources teams should modify aerospace employees’ benefits to attract talent at every stage of life.
  • Employers should consider reengineering roles to allow for remote or hybrid work options.
  • Managers should consider offering 4-day workweeks with 10-hour days or 9-day work periods of 80 hours for touch labor, employees working in a sensitive compartmented information facility, or employees working on the tarmac.

Implementing a Skills-Based Approach to Aerospace Talent Management

The tight labor market and the need to increase aerospace workforce diversity are causing many organizations to move away from minimum qualifications involving college degrees, fields of study, years of work experience, and other hiring qualifications. Instead, these companies are breaking down roles into skills and capabilities.

Transition to skills-based talent management

Skills-based talent management provides many advantages for aerospace talent supply and demand:

  • Expanded recruiting funnel
  • Access to qualified candidates who have vocational experience or are self-taught
  • Ability to develop and source talent from community colleges, trade schools, and other certification programs

More effective learning and development programs

A skills-based talent management model lets aerospace companies focus their learning and development programs on upskilling or cross-skilling employees in certain areas. These activities support transparency within career paths and increase the return on learning and development investment.

For instance, if a program manager wants to become a quality engineer, a skills-based talent management model would clarify the skills to develop to position the manager to transition into the role. The model also would show relevant training and development resources to support the transition.

Strategic aerospace workforce planning

Combining a skills-based talent management model with strategic workforce planning helps a company understand which skills are critical to deliver on its programs and attain its strategy. Aerospace talent with relevant skills could receive compensation relative to the market.

Reevaluating Talent Sourcing Strategies

Traditional aerospace hiring involves using job boards, cleared job fairs, and specialized staffing firms to source candidates with the right skills and clearance levels. However, there are additional methods to source aerospace talent:

  • Offer employee referral bonuses for contact with clearances who would fit with the company.
  • Coordinate with military bases, government agencies, and affinity groups to source veterans who are retiring from active duty and hold clearances.
  • Partner with community colleges, trade schools, and vocational programs.
  • Use social media to connect with employees in the intelligence community to determine whether they are open to new opportunities.
  • Implement targeted advertising on websites and forums frequented by employees in the intelligence community to reach candidates with clearances.
  • Offer internships or apprenticeships for candidates who are obtaining clearances to get them in the talent pipeline.
  • Track candidates in a candidate relationship management system to follow up in the future.

Partner with a Top Aerospace Staffing Firm

Work with Vector Technical to fill your aerospace staffing needs. Contact us to get started today.