House Addresses Labor Shortage in Aviation and Aerospace

labor shortage in aviation and aerospace

Labor shortages in Aviation and Aerospace aren’t limited to pilots. The industry needs more mechanics, flight line employees (gate to runway, and back), engineers and scientists. Engineers and scientists help develop technological advances and upgrades throughout the industry, from aircraft design and manufacturing to computer programming and communication systems.

The Aviation and Aerospace industry employs more than 2 million people, with small businesses employing 90% of those workers. The majority of the employees are in transportation, aviation manufacturing (parts) and air transport support (flight line employees).

House Hears About Labor Shortage for Small Business in Aviation and Aerospace

The House Small Business Committee on Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Workforce Development is proposing a solution. The fix the committee is proposing would be a focus on workforce 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 workforce talent. “We’ll be looking for nontraditional sources to increase the talent pool,” Fanning said. He added that the industry needs to “build the workforce at earlier stages” by finding young people to learn a role and choose a career path in the Aviation and Aerospace Industry.

Why Is the Aviation and Aerospace Industry Struggling to Find Employees?

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

  • The existing workforce is aging.
  • The existing workforce needs to “upskill” in response to advances in technology, some are opting out of that requirement and choosing to retire or change jobs.
  • The pandemic put a hurting on the demand for commercial and tourism trave, and has not yet fulling recovered from that.
  • The industry’s reputation is struggling, with record numbers of flight cancellations affecting the economy and transportation (goods shipped by air), and the satisfaction level of travelers.

Can Businesses Tap into Training Grants and Apprenticeship Money?

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

Money is available from the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act and National Defense Authorization Act. The acts, launched in 2018, were originally scheduled to wind down in 2020 but have been extended through 2023.

When available, the Small Business Administration would administer a workforce initiative program through its Aerospace and Defense grant and funding department. You can learn more about that and sign up for email alerts.

The Small Business Committee on Aviation and Aerospace is calling for action. Committee Chairman Jason Crow (D-CO) said that the issue is affecting both the nation’s economy and its national security. Crow said that both the US Navy and Air Force are seeing a lack of pilots.

Image: Depositphotos

Lisa Price Lisa Price is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 4 years. She has a B.A. in English with a minor in journalism from Shippensburg State College (Pennsylvania). She is also a freelance writer and previously worked as a newspaper circulation district manager and radio station commercial writer. In 2019, Lisa received the (Pennsylvania) Keystone Award.