National Apprenticeship Week Q&A: Jean Wallace, Lockheed Martin

Following President Trump’s Executive Order on Expanding Apprenticeships in America, the Aerospace & Defense (A&D) industry has increasingly worked to promote effective work-based development programs as a more affordable pathway to highly-skilled, high-paying jobs. In honor of National Apprenticeship Week (Nov. 12-Nov. 18), we spoke to some of our members about the impact of apprenticeships within A&D, and the growing opportunities for men and women looking to join the industry

Jean Wallace of Lockheed Martin worked with her colleagues across the company to provide their outlook on apprenticeships, and a rundown of what anyone looking into the industry should be excited about:

Apprenticeship at Lockheed Martin
Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin

1. Why should current and future apprentices be excited about the Aerospace & Defense industry? What encourages you most as you think about the industry’s future?

It is an exciting time for A&D industry apprenticeships. The A&D industry continues to produce highly complex, new products and technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence (AI).

The A&D industry is expanding apprenticeship programs that provide the necessary rigor and high standards of quality to support the development of skilled workers.

Industry skill needs are changing. There is greater demand for skills such as system software, programming and data analytics. Apprenticeships provide exposure to state-of-the-art technologies and new trends in engineering beyond traditional methodologies, helping our customers solve some of their most challenging problems with the potential to make a lasting impact on the world. Apprenticeships at Lockheed Martin are evolving to address these and many other new skills.

Lockheed Martin is committed to the development, implementation and maintenance of thriving apprenticeships, Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAP) and/or and pre-apprenticeship programs for the purpose of creating the next generation of highly skilled aerospace and advanced manufacturing workers. We are equally committed to upskilling and reskilling our existing workforce to meet the ever-evolving needs of the A&D industry.

We take pride in how the A&D industry supports the security of our country and our allies. The A&D industry leads the advancement in technology, systems and investments needed to prepare the future workforce to maintain our air superiority and dominance.

Apprenticeship at Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin Sikorsky Intern Christian Haupt learns from his mentor Bob Iacozza how to flush plumbing tubes that he created to provide hydraulic fluid to various parts of the helicopter system, such as flight controls. Christian was one of the 33 participants in the Teamsters/Sikorsky Career Pathways Program last summer who are able to apply skills learned at school to real life experience.

2. What role do you believe the Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Program Standards will play for A&D?

IRAPs will provide common practices and industry-agreed requirement standards for work-based learning programs. IRAPs will allow A&D companies to develop structured programs similar to Registered Apprenticeship (RA) programs but with more flexibility.  Lockheed Martin may include IRAPs in our program offerings in addition to RAs, Pre-Apprenticeships, upskilling, rotational programs, internships, etc.

3. What advice do you have for students who are considering an apprenticeship within the Aerospace & Defense industry?

The A&D industry provides opportunities for high quality career opportunities in exciting, challenging and rewarding fields. STEM jobs are projected to grow in fields like cyber, software engineering, AI, robotics and automation, hypersonics, etc.

Wherever you are with your career and education, there is a route for you to enter the A&D industry through a variety of different apprenticeship programs. Apprenticeship programs may be a valuable way for students to obtain skills and experience (related instruction and on the job training) to be successful in the A&D industry.

New apprenticeship programs put candidates on a career fast track for employment in the A&D industry and we’re tapping into an increasingly diverse pipeline (including high school students) even earlier. These programs provide candidates with benefits such as:

  • Working full-time for a defined period while training with a seasoned and experienced mentor
  • Earning college credit towards an associate degree that can turn into a four-year degree (select programs)

Apprenticeships allow students to obtain stackable credentials recognized by the industry and employers in the A&D industry including Lockheed Martin and the Department of Labor.