Aviation Demand Flies High But Talent Supply Plummets

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Posted by Corey Myers

August 20, 2015

Rules-of-EngagementThe Aviation Industry is thriving right now, but you wouldn’t know it. In a job market starting to pick back up again, the need for aviation workers is off the charts, but the supply of talent continues to dwindle down. Learn what you can do internally to boost Aviation employment at your organization, and the external resources that have proven to get more boots on the ground and planes in the air.

The Aviation Hiring Landscape

According to Wanted Analytics, a real-time aggregator of talent demand data, there are currently around 27,000 open Aviation positions in the U.S. However, the shortage of qualified aviation workers is fierce and being felt worldwide. So much so, that in a survey conducted by National Association for Business Economics it was reported as in July 2015 that 35 percent of firms had experienced widespread industry talent shortages.

And, the bleak outlook for Aviation companies doesn’t stop there. According to Forbes, skilled laborers jobs, which include a range of positions from mechanics and welders, to engineers and electricians, and even computer technicians, are so plentiful that an experienced laborer can often find a job well within 48 hours. Some of these positions can earn upwards of $70,000 a year – which in most areas places a household in the top 25 percent for income. Yet, even with a lucrative outlook and a near guarantee of work, many candidates don’t have skilled labor jobs on their radar.   

Experts point their finger to a number of reasons. To start, educational institutions have lost training programs for trade jobs, and as a result, more high school graduates transition their focus on Liberal Art degrees. Next, culturally speaking, skilled labor is just not as appealing as it used to be.  In a niche as specific as Aviation, laborers often lead an almost nomadic lifestyle in order to follow the best paying jobs. Often times living out of suitcases and traveling in groups, the life of an aviation employee is not always an appealing one.

With all of these factors working against them, companies and global manufacturers must forge through.  When filling aviation jobs, such as aircraft mechanics positions, utility helicopter repair workers, or aviation operational specialists, companies often struggle to source qualified candidates. Continuously running up against a wall, the skilled labor talent shortage is a top of mind challenge when it comes to recruiting and retention. As a result, many companies desperate to meet deadlines and project deliveries turn to staffing agencies like Yoh for help sourcing, screening and hiring quality Aviation talent.

But, what else can Aviation companies do to literally get more boots on the ground? From understanding the labor market to government funded training programs, there are a number of short and long term tactics organizations can implement to bolster hiring in this unique and highly sought after candidate pool.


Know that You Get What You Pay For

As hard as it is to swallow, sometimes it just comes down to dollars and cents. Aviation companies need to be willing to make the investment in skilled labor if they want the high-quality talent. Since the jobs are plentiful, it’s not uncommon that these workers will move to the company next door for a little as a dollar more an hour.   


Develop Training Partnerships Stat

Another way to find the right skilled laborer is to build the talent from the ground up.

For example, in 2013, Wisconsin technical colleges shared $3.8 million in Wisconsin Workforce Partnership Grant. This included a partnership with DeltaHawk, a designer and manufacturer of engines for the aviation market. DeltaHawk was planning to hire over 100 new assemblers and technicians with skills related to aviation over the next three to five years. They partnered with Gateway Technical College to create a new 30-week Diesel Aviation Manufacturing Certificate to help meet these employment needs. These employer-led academic degrees are becoming more common and are creating a pipeline of skilled professionals for employers to choose from   


On-the-job training is also a great way that state grants are helping to build a solid pipeline for skilled labor positions.  A great example of specifics on Aerospace and Aviation workforce incentive program is through the state of Mississippi. According to Workforce Mississippi, they developed an on-the-job training program with Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation. As a result, the company’s workforce remained competent in multiple areas, easing cross scheduling while encouraging a retention rate of more than 90 percent.


Continuously Revisit Incentive Programs

Aviation companies need to keep up with the Joneses so to speak, and stay competitive with incentives. This includes referral bonuses, sign-on bonuses, and retention bonuses. Even offering more vacation and holiday pay has attracted these workers. There are even companies that offer tax-free discounts, in which workers are given a percentage of their pay day tax free to offset the cost of living

The better the incentive, the more likely they are willing to stay. If companies are not willing to make that investment, they will not receive the talent they need.  Investing in quantity and not quality will hurt finances more in the long run.

Though finding the talent needed in skilled-labor sector is not an easy task - sometimes, it all comes down to making an investment in the right people.  Aviation companies, the government, and staffing companies are partnering and developing creative ideas to not only find the and develop the skilled laborers they need, but ultimately  creating more jobs to help boost a recovering economy.

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Corey Myers is the Fulfillment Manger of the Aviation and Defense Division at Yoh. He has over 12+ years of experience in Aviation and Defense recruiting as well as 7 years military and naval aviation experience. In his free time Corey stays active with a variety of Wildlife Conservation efforts.

Topics: Recruiting Trends, Aviation

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