Preserving an Aerospace Industry Workforce

The Congressionally mandated Interagency Aerospace Revitalization Task Force in its first of five annual reports, released by the Labor Department last week, has recommended “sustained collaboration” among federal agencies; an “integrated, cross-agency and public/private investment strategy;” and “knowledge sharing” to confront the challenges of a “graying workforce” and a too small potential replacement pool, states the report. In a year-long review of the state of the aerospace workforce, the task force discovered that in addition to the fact that there are fewer students obtaining degrees in the critical science, technical, engineering, and math fields (the percentage has fallen from 32 percent in 1995 to 27 percent in 2004), many of those students who do enter aerospace leave because “other careers [are] more stimulating,” according to the report. And, it found that many current aerospace workers “would not recommend aerospace careers for their children” because of concerns of instability and lack of opportunities for innovation. The task force plans this year to create cross-agency project teams to convert its strategies “into concrete action plans.”