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New study from AIA and PwC highlights changing demographics, shifting employment expectations as significant concerns facing the industry amid rising demand

(Arlington, Va.) — The Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) and PwC just released a new study highlighting the labor market dynamics facing aerospace and defense (A&D) companies today. The qualitative report analyzes the latest workforce trends and offers strategies for businesses as they seek to recruit and retain top talent amid unprecedented demand. 

“The aerospace and defense workforce is the cornerstone of our industry’s success, but AIA’s latest study with PwC shows that our companies continue to face broad challenges attracting and retaining the talent they need. This is creating significant headwinds for an industry that’s filled with exciting opportunities,” Eric Fanning, AIA’s President and CEO, said. “By responding with the creative solutions for which our industry is renown, we can continue to fuel the growth and innovation that will propel us toward the future.”

“We expect that the A&D industry will continue to experience serious challenges to fill its workforce ranks over the next several years,” said Scott Thompson, PwC’s Global Aerospace & Defense Leader. “Given these challenges, it is especially important for the industry to change course in how it engages with top talent. Perhaps the most urgent need is to redouble efforts to promote the industry as one that can offer exciting and meaningful careers developing and producing some of the most innovative technology that exists in any field.”

Key highlights from the report:

  • A&D companies are facing unprecedented demand for talent with critical or niche skillsets, but the industry isn’t always viewed as a “destination of choice.” A&D companies should connect their employees with a sense of mission and purpose for the work they are doing, adopt a skills-based approach to hiring, and tailor human resources (HR) programs to meet individuals’ wants and needs.
  • The demand for cleared roles in the defense sector far exceeds the talent available to fill these roles. With over 70,000 unfilled cleared roles in the United States, these gaps translate to significant unrealized revenue for A&D companies. Impacted companies should reevaluate their talent sourcing strategies, including focusing on veteran recruiting. Rather than take a start-to-finish approach to cleared work, companies should review what individual elements of their work require clearance.
  • An aging workforce means more retirements are on the horizon — creating a projected multi-million worker gap in the coming years. This is particularly a challenge for manufacturing. A&D businesses must integrate more effective workforce planning into their strategic planning activities and be proactive in succession planning and knowledge transfer for positions that are critical to delivering against their firms’ goals.
  • Leadership experience — especially people management and in-person collaboration — are lacking post-pandemic. A&D companies should respond by building engaging, high-impact learning experiences to prepare managers to be effective people leaders.

AIA and PwC’s latest report combines feedback from more than a dozen business leaders and talent executives working at AIA member companies with industry data, as well as the experience of PwC’s A&D workforce transformation experts. 

Click here to access the full report.

As the leading voice advocating for the 21st century workforce needs for the A&D industry, AIA regularly releases A&D industry workforce data. The results of our 2022 Aerospace & Defense Workforce Study can be found here. AIA’s 2023 quantitative workforce study will be released in the fall.


About AIA

For over 100 years, the American aerospace and defense (A&D) industry has shaped the world around us. From the first flight to the moon landing, the impact of A&D is immeasurable — and the next great aerospace achievement is on the horizon. With more than 2.1 million shared employees and generating $391 billion in economic value, we are critical to the health of the U.S. economy and serve as a seamless, fundamental part of daily life. Now more than ever, it’s vital that our collective industry has a strong voice speaking on its behalf. 

The Aerospace Industries Association has been that voice since 1919. Our work as an advocate and leader is essential to shaping policy, shedding light on the industry’s impact, and fortifying its future. Together with our more than 320 member companies, our advocacy influences: effective federal investments; accelerated deployment of innovative technologies; policies that enhance our global competitiveness; and recruitment and retention efforts that support a capable and diverse 21st century workforce.

About PwC

PwC’s purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. PwC’s network of firms in 152 countries comprises over 327,000 people who are committed to delivering quality through our Trust Solutions and Consulting Solutions segments. Find out more at

1000 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1700
Arlington, VA 22209-3928