Aviation Week's annual Workforce Study, the industry's official report and a mainstay for A&D planning and trend analysis since 1997, identifies trends in technological challenges, leadership, demographics and compensation, and ranks the top universities for A&D recruitment.
Aerospace and defense executives manage a workforce of 849,000 people who design, build, support, and service the industry. Significant attention is placed on the industry’s workforce which, in 2016 alone, lost more than 48,000 workers through layoffs, attrition, and retirements.
The 2017 Aviation Week Workforce study, released in September 2017, shed light to issues challenging the industry for the past ten years. These include:
- Companies continue to improve management of a five-generation workforce.
- Retirements remain lower than the national averages.
- Demographics remain a challenge.
- The hiring of young professionals continues to reflect current demographics with no significant increase in the number of under-represented minorities or women hired.
- The percentage of women in executive leadership increased; the percentage of underrepresented minorities in executive leadership declined.
- Students and young professionals (YPs) continue to show commitment to the A&D industry.
- Student level of interest remains high.
- Benefits, including health care and education, remain differentiators.
- The list of critical skills companies say they want for hiring has become more nuanced.
- It is no longer either/or; the industry needs legacy skills of aerospace, mechanical and electrical engineers, and now also seeks knowledge of cognitive computing, artificial intelligence and materials.
- The decrease of pay in several areas does not reflect the competitive market for systems or software engineers; entry-level pay for aerospace engineers declined as well.
- The industry is investing at levels equal to prior years.
- IRAD (independent research and development) remained at 5% on average.
- More than 80% of companies invested in manufacturing automation and IT systems.
The industry’s hiring professionals recognized the most important considerations of students, when they’re weighing job offers: work-life balance, pay and health care, and a strong retirement plan.
Other key stats include:
- 24% of the workforce is female, down from 26% in 2007.
- Within the engineering ranks, 15% of employees are women versus 12% in 2007.
- In terms of race/ethnicity, the data vary by the size of company; the percentage of Hispanic employees is higher for companies with head counts of 1,000-9,999 while companies with fewer than 1,000 employees tend to have the least diversity and more commonly reflect local demographics
- In 2007, 2% of the workforce retired. Ten years later, the rate was basically the same at 1.8%.
- Average age = 46 years; 22.3% under age 35; 29.8% over age 55
Below are interesting graphics. One illustrates anticipate workforce growth by region. The other is one of two salary grids, representing various industry specialties. Click here to download the Aviation Week 2017 Workforce Study's Executive Summary.