Aerospace: Building the Workforce of the Future

In the ever-evolving landscape of the post-COVID world, the demand for talent has reached unprecedented levels, and the Aerospace Industry is no exception. This dynamic sector thrives on the expertise of a skilled workforce. As cutting-edge automation and advanced digital technologies reshape the industry’s dynamics, the need for highly specialised skills and robust digital competencies has never been more acute for building the workforce of the future.

The Economic Value of the Aerospace Sector

The UK’s aerospace sector is a driving force behind high-paying jobs, technological advancements, and robust employment opportunities across the nation. Contributing substantially to the UK economy, the aerospace, defence, security, and space industries jointly added £37 billion to the nation’s economic value in 2022, as reported by ADS Group. In terms of global scale, the aerospace market reached a value of $298 billion in 2020. Projections for growth are also optimistic, with expectations said to rise to $430.7 billion by 2025, and an estimated market worth of $573.6 billion by 2023.

Overcoming Workforce Challenges

That being said, according to the 2022 Aerospace & Defense Workforce Study, conducted by the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) and the American Institue of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) in collaboration with Ernst & Young (EY US), the aerospace industry has been grappling with significant challenges across all segments due to the high turnover rate among employees in recent years.

In response, the aerospace sector is exploring innovative strategies, one of which involves the potential outsourcing of aerospace engineering services. This approach opens up avenues for collaboration with partners specialising in product development. Particularly in areas where aerospace enterprises have not historically concentrated their talent investments. This collaborative model could enable rapid team expansion. Fostering enduring partnerships that are enriched by digital proficiencies and comprehensive technical acumen spanning the entire value chain.

This shift is not confined solely to numerical staffing adjustments; it is fundamentally reshaping the essence of the aerospace workforce. The integration of automation and advanced digital technologies is redefining the fabric of the industry’s workforce. Compelling a transition toward individuals who possess augmented capabilities in aerospace engineering, mathematics, data science, and digital proficiencies. Aerospace corporations must adopt strategies that have a future-oriented outlook, accommodating both current and forthcoming workforce requirements. A pivotal aspect of this approach involves cultivating an innovative culture and digital skills within the workforce.

Aerospace Market Opportunities

The increasing integration of Digital Innovation, driven by new technologies and business models, aims at enhancing efficiency and productivity. By harnessing digital tools throughout the industry’s lifecycle, aerospace businesses can refine their products and services, reduce costs, and meet customer expectations more effectively. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are powering accelerated aerospace research and education. AI’s ability to rapidly analyse data fosters innovation, propelling the industry forward at an unprecedented pace.

Virtual Reality (VR) has been emerging as a game-changer for some time now. Enhancing manufacturing efficiency and aiding training, maintenance, simulating various scenarios, refining prototypes and streamlining production processes.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is another invaluable asset, particularly in aircraft maintenance and repair. Predictive maintenance, driven by IoT technology, offers the potential to anticipate and address equipment damage before it occurs. Thereby significantly enhancing operational efficiency.

Growth in the space market has also been captivating attention. The expansion of the launch industry and advancements in satellite technology are reshaping global connectivity.

What Does This Mean for the Future-Facing Workforce?

Aerospace employees are imagining a future where technologies like VR, high-performance computing, AI and smart facilities create new opportunities for where and how work gets done. The industry is brimming with growth opportunities. And while organisations can’t protect jobs that are made redundant by technology – they do have a responsibility to their people. Protect people, not jobs. Nurturing agility, adaptability and re-skilling.


Overcoming workforce challenges through innovative strategies, embracing digital transformation, and capitalising on emerging market opportunities will define the sector’s success in building the workforce of the future.

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