7–11 January 2019
Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego,
San Diego, California

Future Aerospace Workforce Needs Include Flexibility, Inspiration

Posted: 10 January 2017, 3:30 p.m. EST

Panelists: Moderator Michael D. Griffin, chairman and CEO, Schafer Corp.; C. Douglas Ebersole, executive director, Air Force Research Laboratory; Kevin Parsons, director of innovation and transformation, Northrop Grumman; Robie Samanta Roy, vice president of technology, strategy and innovation, Lockheed Martin; Kenneth Sanger, vice president and general manager, 787 Airplane Development, Boeing Commercial Airplanes; Lisa Teague, director of research and technology strategy, Rolls-Royce

by Duane Hyland, AIAA Communications

The aerospace industry faces great challenges in the coming years in attracting, retaining and encouraging workers to remain innovative and inspired, a panel of experts said Jan. 10 at the 2017 AIAA SciTech Forum in Grapevine, Texas.

The "Future of the Aerospace Industry and Workforce Needs" panel examined the current challenges facing the industry in terms of building its workforce to be the workforce of the future. They discussed challenges such as qualified and talented individuals moving to other nations; inflexible programming that doesn't allow for cross-team work and learning; stove-piped financial models that don't promote cross-discipline teaming; length of projects; and uncertainty about the needs and wants of millennials who will compose the future workforce.

In regards to losing people to other nations, Mike Griffin, chairman and CEO of Schafer Corp., urged "making working in the U.S. attractive to foreign students."

For financial models, the panelists all agreed that stove-piped funding and bureaucracy are real threats to the industry's resiliency.

Future-of-aerospace-industry-panel-10Jan2017-SciTech2017Participants in the panel discussion, "Future of the Aerospace Industry and Workforce Needs," Jan. 10 at the 2017 AIAA SciTech Forum, in Grapevine, Texas.

C. Douglas Ebersole, executive director of the Air Force Research Laboratory, said the industry should move away from siloed funding and acquisition models to allow for "greater work between air, space and cyber resources." He said those resources would be the basis for solutions to most industry problems going forward.

When it comes to project length, Robie Samanta Roy, vice president of technology, strategy and innovation with Lockheed Martin, argued that people don't want to wait decades to accomplish things.

"Develop programs with clear milestones and deliverables," he said, adding that this would keep things interesting and people inspired — especially younger workers.

As for millennials, the panelists said to attract and retain them, companies need to be more flexible in terms of work hours and days and develop ways to make advancement within companies easier. They also said companies need to learn to tolerate job hopping as younger workers seek greater and greater challenges.

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