The U.S. Senate met this week to discuss a warning from the aerospace and aviation industry that the upcoming expected wave of retiring aviation professionals could damage the industry within the next five years if the Government does not help more young people to train and qualify for these jobs.
Although there are sponsored training courses springing up across the industry, fears that global competitors could steal the show are growing within the U.S. industry. Regulatory issues, the need for an updated infrastructure and workforce development were some of the topics that were raised at the meeting.
Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Dept at AFL-CIO warned that the FAA will face similar staffing issues, “One third of the (FAA) workforce, including controllers, inspectors and systems specialists are eligible to retire. This is unsustainable and must be addressed because we believe it’s going to not only impact operations for the airline industry, but also the safety of the system as you see this brain drain of high-quality people retiring and we’re not hiring and replacing them fast enough,” he said.
Boeing’s Dennis Muilenburg told the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation operations, safety and security, “If we look at demographics of our workforce across Boeing and much of the aerospace industry, about 50 percent of our top engineers and mechanics will be eligible to retire over roughly the next five years.” Officials have added that encouraging schools to push science, math and technology-based subjects could help to create a new generation of engineers for the future, albeit even then, still putting pressure on the aviation industry jobs sector.
Muilenburg said, “We have about 4 million children entering kindergarten this year. At current rates, that would produce about 60,000 to 70,000 engineers at the end of college. That’s not even enough to satisfy the aerospace industry, let alone all sectors that need engineers.”
With the predicted rises in air traffic and passenger demand hitting new highs, the need is becoming more urgent for a skilled and experienced workforce in the coming years if the aviation industry is to cope.