Retiring workers mean expanded aerospace career opportunities for those with the right training and education

The Puget Sound Business Journal  reports that even with some reduction in Boeing employment in the region, there will continue to be strong demand for skilled aerospace workers. 

Many Boeing workers are ready to retire, and Boeing and other aerospace manufacturers will need to hire workers to fill vacated positions and find workers who understand digital manufacturing, a new report shows.

…The Talent Pipeline Study for Aerospace prepared for the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County shows that overall aerospace jobs will decline by 0.8 percent annually in King County over the next decade, but hiring will increase by 1.3 percent annually.

The Talent Pipeline Study finds

The aerospace industry is one of the state’s largest and most associated industries, employing almost 94,000 people statewide in 2014. With more than 45,000 aerospace employees in King County alone the county is an essential part of the statewide aerospace industry and an integral element of the global aerospace supply chain. Of the aerospace employees in King County, 31,367 work in core aerospace industry occupations.

The Washington State Employment Security Department projects overall employment within the aerospace industry will decline by 0.8% annually from 2013 to 2023. Although the industry is projected to decline somewhat as a whole, key occupations within the industry will experience many openings and in fact increase in number. Openings among key aerospace occupations are projected to increase by 1.3% annually from 2013 to 2023. Annual openings include new jobs created due to growth as well as job openings created by existing employees exiting employment to retire, move, or change industries. 

The news release by the Workforce Development Council says, 

Replacement openings will significantly impact the sector in coming years; over 50 percent of the aerospace workforce is over the age of 45. The sector has begun significant efforts to recruit and train workers locally at the K-12 level, however this does not address the need for engineers at the four year and higher levels.

 The PSBJ story by Steve Wilhelm cites local concerns.

“I’m a little concerned,” said Bob Uptagrafft, executive director of the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance. “I’m concerned we’re not going to able to fill the positions.”

…Uptagrafft questions whether the region will generate enough trained workers, especially in the digital sector to meet the aerospace industry’s needs — especially when demands for the same skills are so strong in other industries. Tech workers are in high demand throughout the Puget Sound region, which could make it even more difficult for the aerospace industry to find the workers it needs.

We stress the importance of postsecondary education to expand career opportunities for Washingtonians. 

By 2020, 70 percent of Washington jobs will require postsecondary education or training. Preparing our students for these opportunities requires high-quality education at every level.

Both increased access and improved outcomes will be critical to meeting the demand in aerospace and throughout the state economy.