A recent article in Aviation Week caught my attention. According to Av Week’s 2018 Aerospace and Defense Workforce Study, the industry hired 50,000 workers in 2017 and will hire 38,000 more workers by the end of this year! Even with record numbers of new hires, will all positions be filled? Probably not–not by a long shot. A year ago, an Av Week article (Workforce Evolution, September 18-October 1) cited 27,000 open job requisitions in A&D companies. Obviously, these kinds of numbers, especially in light of a predicted “tidal wave” of retirements, highly concern industry executives.

Airplane and building, low angle
Image Credit: David Toman

So, in an economy experiencing record-setting low levels of unemployment, attracting and retaining qualified workers is critical. The aforementioned Workforce Study identified learning as a top priority with industry executives. Certainly, learning opportunities won’t be the only benefit companies rely on to help fill positions, but leveraging on-the-job and off site training/continuing education opportunities to retain and reskill valuable employees is an important element of most organizations overall employment plan.

Sixty-seven percent of A&D companies offer their employees tuition reimbursement plans—a very valuable benefit and one that any employee seeking a degree to advance their career should take advantage of. However, “for credit” courses and degree programs aren’t often required for “reskilling.” Continuing education short courses can be the best fit for developing a new hire into a useful employee in record time, transitioning an experienced employee to a new position, or refreshing a rising manager’s perspective on “the big picture.” In addition to learning, short courses can, and often do, motivate. Allowing an aerospace employee with limited formal aerospace education a few days exposure to the vocabulary and physical principles fundamental to our industry can instill the confidence and understanding to enable better communication and improved effectiveness. Giving a key employee a few days to examine the forest and forget about the trees, may help prevent burnout.

In short, continuing education short courses have their place and should be a part of any company’s workforce development/retention program. Practical Aeronautics’ introductory and advanced aeronautics and propulsion short courses are of the highest quality and are designed to educate and motivate. Our introductory courses are taught by award winning PhD instructors and highly skilled aircrew, experienced in the field and as educators—students get the underlying foundational theory and the practical application. Our building block approach and emphasis on physical explanations of aeronautics fundamentals make our courses well suited to both non-technical and highly technical audiences. Consider Practical Aeronautics courses to supplement your company’s workforce development/workforce retention program!

Craig Seymour, President, Practical Aeronautics