House solves labor shortage in aviation and aerospace

Labor shortages in aviation and aerospace are not limited to pilots. The industry needs more mechanics, flight line workers (gate to runway and back), engineers and scientists. Engineers and scientists help develop technological advances and upgrades across industry, from aircraft design and manufacturing to computer programming and communications systems.

The aerospace industry employs more than 2 million people, and small businesses employ 90% of those workers. The majority of the employees are in the transport sector, aviation production (parts) and air transport support (airline employees).

Huis hears about labor shortage for small businesses in aviation and aerospace

The House Small Business Committee on Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Workforce Development proposes a solution. The solution proposed by the committee would be to focus on staff initiatives such as training grants and paid apprenticeships.

Eric Fanning, president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association, said the industry will broaden its search for talent talent. “We will look for non-traditional resources to increase the talent pool,” Fanning said. He added that the industry “needs to build up the workforce at earlier stages” by finding young people to learn a role and choose a career path in the aerospace industry.

Why is the aerospace industry struggling to find workers?

The industry employs more than 2 million workers with an average salary of $105,000 (2020). Why is there a labor shortage with a six figure salary average?

The existing workforce is aging. The existing workforce needs to be “upgraded” in response to technological advancements, with some waiving that requirement and choosing to retire or change jobs. The pandemic has negatively impacted the demand for commercial and tourist travel, and has not yet fully recovered from it. The industry’s reputation is struggling, with a record number of canceled flights impacting the economy and transportation (goods shipped by air) and passenger satisfaction.

Can companies make use of training grants and internship fees?

Not yet. The House Small Business Committee on Aviation and Aerospace advocates the need for those programs, but no programs have been launched to date.

Money is available through the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act and the National Defense Authorization Act. Launched in 2018, the acts were originally scheduled to be phased out in 2020, but have been extended to 2023.

If available, the Small Business Administration would administer a workforce initiative program through the Aerospace and Defense Department of Grants and Funding. You can learn more about that and sign up for email alerts.

The Small Business Committee on Aviation and Aerospace calls for action. Commission President Jason Crow (D-CO) said the issue affects both the country’s economy and national security. Crow said both the US Navy and Air Force are seeing a lack of pilots.

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