Following the October 15 CEO call hosted by Marion Blakey, AIA’s Workforce Policy Council (WPC) on October 25 held a call-in session for member companies to discuss the workforce impacts of the federal government shutdown and best practices for dealing with the effects. Practices shared with the WPC were compiled into a checklist of recommended actions for AIA members to consider in the event of another government shutdown or similar situations. The checklist has been distributed by email to all AIA members and posted on the AIA website for future reference.
In other business, the WPC agreed to commit $20,000 to support the 2014 workforce study with Aviation Week & Space Technology and to create an AIA Workforce Analytics Working Group to recommend revisions to the annual survey and a path forward. Among changes the Working Group was asked to consider are: minor adjustments to reduce costs and make the results more useful; reducing the number of questions asked; not conducting all five parts of the survey every year; focusing the corporate survey on truly value-added components; and bringing in other studies in which member companies participate to be part of the annual effort.
Dr. Reginald Brothers, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research, spoke to the WPC about current and future workforce challenges faced by the Department of Defense. Stating that big changes are taking place in the threat space and in the technology space, Brothers noted DOD is striving to develop technological overmatch, which involves two dimensions: human and material. Brothers emphasized that an innovative workforce characterized by diversity of thought and the ability to embrace change is essential. He added that our industry doesn’t have an overall workforce numbers problem but rather lack the right quality and fit of skills.
Referring to the 2012 report from the National Academies, Assuring the U.S. Department of Defense a Strong Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce, Brothers described what the DOD is doing to maintain the technical quality of its workforce. Chaired by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (ASD(R&E)), the DOD STEM Executive Board, established in July 2011, provides strategic leadership to the Department’s STEM programs to ensure the DOD has enduring access to a highly competent technical workforce to support research and development of capabilities in existing and emerging technical areas.
Brothers also said DOD is looking to initiate a STEM Diversity Campaign based on DOD technologies and challenges that will hopefully excite and inspire women and minority students to map out STEM career pathways.
The WPC and Brothers saw fertile ground for working together in various ways, including experienced-based learning with co-ops; and industry and DOD labs growing talent jointly through rotational internships.
National Security STEM Engagement Campaign
On November 15, Brothers and several members of the AIA STEM Workforce Working Group participated in a workshop hosted by Northrop Grumman to begin outlining the goals and objectives, messages, and governance of a DOD-industry sponsored National Security STEM Engagement Campaign. Communications firm GMMB and WUSA*9, the local Gannett station, are also involved in designing the campaign.
2014 State STEM Meetings
Building on a very successful District of Columbia STEM Call-to-Action Forum held October 28-29, AIA and NDIA are now fleshing out plans for state meetings in Ohio, Virginia and Alabama next year. The Ohio Aerospace Institute will host the meeting in Cleveland April 8-9. A Virginia meeting will take place at Huntington-Ingalls in Newport News during the first part of June. AIA and NDIA have partnered with the Business-Higher Education Forum and the University of Alabama at Huntsville to hold a meeting in October-November to launch a regional aeronautical and aerospace engineering workforce project. Confirmed dates and venues for the Virginia and Alabama meetings will be available in January.