Aerospace Worker Shortage Addressed

 - December 18, 2006, 11:07 AM

In one of its last acts before the 109th Congress ended last month, the Senate approved a House-passed bill that creates a federal Interagency Aerospace Revitalization Task Force. It directs 11 federal agencies, led by the Department of Labor, to form a task force to develop strategies to expand public and private aerospace job-training programs.

The bill specifically requires that the task force report to Congress each year on the status of federal policies and partnerships designed to advance training programs in the areas of science, engineering, technology, mathematics and skilled vocational trades.

The Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) called passage of H.R.758 a vital step toward ensuring the long-term stability of the aerospace industry workforce. The average age of the American aerospace manufacturing employee now exceeds 50; next year 27 percent of aerospace workers will become eligible for retirement.

According to AIA president and CEO John Douglass, the bill will address an ominous shortage of skilled engineers and other workers. The task force is to devise strategies to bolster the workforce and ensure this important cog in the U.S. economy remains strong, he added.

“It’s hard to overstate how important this bill is to the aerospace industry and our nation’s security and economic health,” said Douglass. The bill, first introduced by Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-Mich.), cleared the House in September 2005. Passage of the bill was a goal in AIA’s ongoing efforts to address the shortfall in technical talent and secure the aerospace and defense industrial base.