Laid-off tech workers could fill aerospace talent gap

10 mins

Tech companies are laying off thousands of workers hired to cope with the pandemic demand fo...

Mane Aerospace Team

By Mane Aerospace Team

Tech companies are laying off thousands of workers hired to cope with the pandemic demand for digital everything. Meanwhile, aerospace is struggling to fill tech roles as its own digital transition continues apace. Is it time for these two sectors to put their hands together?

According to a recent analysis by McKinsey, about 50,000 jobs are sitting unfilled in the aerospace and defence sectors, with most of those being tech roles.

Hiring laid-off techies could not only help to solve this, but also help to solve diversity issues in aerospace. Women and people of colour are disproportionately affected by layoffs–and disproportionately needed in aerospace, as well as in other science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Women currently account for just 20% of engineers and 16.5% of inventors worldwide.

Recent studies have shown that the lack of women choosing to enter STEM fields is largely down to two factors, both self-perpetuating: fewer female role models in senior STEM roles, and a lack of confidence in their own abilities.

Of course, there have been trailblazers in aerospace for decades–in fact, for over a hundred years. Helen Holcombe joined the engineering department at Boeing as a “draftsman” as early as 1917, followed by Bessie Marie Dempsey, who ditched a career in dance and movies to become Boeing’s first woman aeronautical engineer in 1948.

But these women’s names are almost unknown–-which means girls considering their future careers aren’t hearing about them. They might also not be hearing about the tradition of flexible hours in aerospace engineering, which has lent itself well to childcare since long before flexibility became a buzzword. Or the fact that engineering is a meaningful career with the opportunity to help people on a massive scale.

While inspiring and supporting the aspirations of girls and marginalised children is vital to the future of aerospace, those efforts will take years or even decades to bear fruit. Tech’s laid-off workers are ready for a new career right now. Aerospace needs to be reaching out to them.

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