In this highly revealing podcast, Aviation Week’s Michael Bruno discusses workforce challenges with two Accenture Aerospace and Defense executives. John Schmidt and Communication, Media and Technology Managing Director Jessica Kane provide keen insights into emerging workforce issues. Clearly stated, their message is: Aerospace Has a People Problem – aging Baby Boomers loom large in the workforce.
Industry Leaders Weigh In on Aerospace Workforce Challenges
Supporting this view, the influential Aerospace Industry Association, a key Aerospace lobbying group, recently named the Aerospace workforce as a key 2019 focus. Referring to building industry consensus around this challenge, Mr. Bruno asked Ms. Kane to cite the top three aerospace workforce challenges. Interestingly, she responded:
- A changing and aging workforce;
- Competition for talent form non-aerospace players, particularly Silicon Valley; and,
- Emerging technologies requiring new and different skill-sets.
Building on these major areas, Mr. Schmidt describes the perceived “bifurcation” of the existing aerospace workforce. Interestingly, he describes the large group of workers eligible and nearing retirement. Additionally, there is another large group of qualified workers just entering or considering joining the aerospace industry. With some trepidation, Mr. Schmidt points to the third group – workers around their forties. Unfortunately, workers with previous interest that didn’t join because of industry uncertainties over the past compose this group. Consequently, he asks, “where are the next crop of leaders coming from?”
Emerging Forces: Digitization and Artificial Intelligence
Unsurprisingly, with a growing need to attract younger workers, the aerospace industry must pivot to meet the needs of these new professionals. Most noteworthy, technology is rapidly evolving and increasing the need for skills that enable smooth fits between workers and growing automation. Further, this growing automation, increasingly driven by artificial intelligence and more agile ways of connecting with workers are the keys. Likewise, Mr. Schmidt refers to many instances of large employers sub-optimizing social media platforms. Clearly, this is a huge missed opportunity and ignores the realities of the dominance of social media in younger workers’ daily lives.
Clearly, HR Transformation Needed Now for Aerospace Workforce of the Future
Unsurprisingly, some aerospace companies are beginning to react. Convincingly, Ms. Kane cites two key areas for improving HR success. The first is to know what future skills and roles will be required to meet future demands. The second key requires completing an inventory of current workforce skills and determining which of those skills are transferable to the new paradigm. Significantly, laying this key groundwork will provide the agility needed to cope with an accelerating pace of change.
For further analysis Avi8ion provides other snapshots into other areas of interest around workforce and automation here.