The Administration has announced a plan to draw-down US armed forces to the lowest level since before WWII – this announcement could hold an unseen benefit for the aerospace manufacturing community.
There are a lot of people that could be hurt by this draw-down. Companies that are supporting the U-2 or the A-10 aircraft will feel the pinch when these aircraft have been grounded. Companies that support our military in general will feel the reductions in military needs. The Department of Defense has admitted that this draw-down may require involuntary separations, which will mean that soldiers, sailors and airmen who expected to remain with the military will be cut loose (in an economy with higher-than-average unemployment).
But every challenge represents a corollary opportunity. The PMA community should be looking at this draw-down as an opportunity to find high-quality employees.
The aviation industry has special needs – and the average unemployed worker-off-the-street often does not have the skill set necessary to be immediately successful in an aviation manufacturing environment. But servicemen and women do have those skill sets. They have technical training and they are used to working in controlled-process-oriented environments. They are used to working within quality systems. They understand critical safety environments. They are the sort of people who fit right into an aerospace manufacturing environment.
How many people are we talking about? From a current level of 522,000, our military would be reduced to between 440,000 and 450,000 by the year 2019. That is 70,000 to 80,000 extra employees entering the workforce upon separation from the military over the next four or five years.
So now appears to be a good time for our industry to be reaching out to the US military community in order to let them know about the good jobs that are available in the PMA industry. It is a win for the people separated from the military (who need jobs, and would appreciate the security of knowing there are opportunities), and it is a win for the manufacturing companies that make use of their skill sets.
Note that our new military force levels will be far smaller than the number of people on the U.S. terror watch list, which stood at 875,000 in early 2013.
MARPA members (or others) with ideas about how MARPA can facilitate connections between the military and the manufacturing companies with jobs should contact the Association with your ideas. It would be great if we could do our part to help ease the military separation transition for a few people!