On the radar: Evolving workforce issues and strategies for aerospace and defense firms

What are the workforce challenges facing the A&D industry?

The aerospace and defense (A&D) industry continues to grow and transform in response to technology disruption and market forces. As the world emerges from the global pandemic, both commercial aerospace companies and defense organizations also face the dynamic of a workforce with changing demographics and shifting employee expectations. To remain competitive and deliver against growing demand, A&D firms should adapt their talent practices to solve both their customers’ and workers’ evolving needs.

Recently we spoke with A&D business leaders and talent executives whose firms are members of the Aerospace Industries Association. In these conversations, we explored the business and labor trends they see shaping their workforces today and the risks and opportunities on the horizon. We identified critical trends and associated opportunities that help address the needs of both employers and employees.

Workforce challenges

How can A&D companies attract, retain, and retire their employees successfully in the coming years? If faced with the need for layoffs due to an unstable economic environment, how should executives form strategic approaches when it comes down to workforce reduction? We explore the unprecedented and complex A&D environment and offer a perspective on effective talent strategies through five identified risk areas and associated opportunities.

Attraction and retention of critical talent

A&D executives point toward the need to focus efforts on growing a workforce that can meet their strategic and operational demands.

Defense's need for cleared talent

Opportunities to address this risk, which has challenged the industry for decades, include reevaluating your talent sourcing strategy and reimagining cleared work.

Emerging retirements across manufacturing

Retirements will create a projected gap of 3.5 million workers by 2026, increasing the pressure to hire in a competitive marketplace. However challenging, this pending retirement gap can create an opportunity for the industry.

A new generation of post-pandemic people leaders

Many executives highlight the critical need to upskill managers on everything from giving and receiving feedback to revisiting fundamental functional skills that may have fallen off within the virtual world.

Emerging cost-takeout requirements

The traditional approach to headcount reduction based on blanket metrics for staff reduction across the board ignores a business imperative: critical workforce skills and differential growth of some sub-sectors within A&D firms. Strategic workforce planning provides a valuable lens to evaluate cost savings plans.

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Justin J. Hall

Principal, Workforce Transformation, PwC US


Yasi Akbari

Senior Manager, Workforce Transformation, PwC US


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