Workforce Panel Discussion at SMC Meeting

Still less than a year old, AIA’s Workforce Policy Council has proved to be an aggressive advocate for educating other association members on workforce and STEM-related issues.

In effort to highlight the importance of growing AIA’s workforce efforts, one of the sessions at the Spring Supplier Management Council meeting held in Dallas this March focused on STEM education and workforce development. The panel discussion addressed a broad range of topics including: extracurricular programs for K-12 students; skills development through Career Technical Education and other specialized training programs; two- and four-year undergraduate degree programs; and targeted outreach to females, underrepresented ethnic minorities, veterans and the disabled. Moderated by Gina Burns, chair of the AIA Workforce Policy Council and Vice President, Talent & Human Resources Operations at Lockheed Martin, the panel provided a range of perspectives and encompassed a broad spectrum of STEM education and workforce development programs in which AIA member companies are involved.

The panel is just one of a number of activities that AIA’s Workforce Policy Council has sponsored to help smaller aerospace and defense companies leverage efforts underway in their communities to address their workforce challenges. All AIA member companies are eligible to participate in any of the five workforce-related working groups organized under the Workforce Policy Council.

Dr. Brian Fitzgerald, CEO of the Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF), emphasized public-private partnerships established with universities by Raytheon and Northrop Grumman to grow particular talent – such as cybersecurity specialists – through regional workforce projects coordinated by BHEF. Dr. Ralph Coppola, President of RKC International, spoke about the Real World Design Challenge, an extracurricular STEM competition to engage high school students in engineering design that he founded as an employee of AIA member company PTC. Brent Weil, Senior Vice President for Education and Workforce at the Manufacturing Institute, provided insight on how manufacturers like Boeing are addressing current technically-skilled worker shortfalls by developing customized training programs implemented by community colleges in areas of high demand. Joan Robinson-Berry, Boeing’s Vice President, Supplier Management for Shared Services Group, described that company’s approach and efforts they have underway to attract and develop a diverse and inclusive talent pool. And Scott Thams, CEO, Integrity Aerospace Group, Inc., and a member of AIA’s Executive Committee, spoke to the role that smaller aerospace firms like his can have in developing productive apprentice programs.