After the shutdowns during the COVID pandemic saw huge numbers of layoffs and redundancies across the aerospace industry, companies throughout the supply chain now face a massive recruitment problem, as aircraft production and continued growth in airline travel ramps up faster than predicted. Grégory Chauvet, General Manager at JPB Système takes a closer look.
The COVID-19 pandemic turned out to be one of the biggest shared experiences in human history. For businesses, it raised an unparalleled amount of uncertainty. For the travel industry, especially on the international stage, the effects were existential. Without knowing how long travel bans would last, many companies in the aviation world were forced to reduce headcounts and effectively pause operations. That included the airlines themselves of course, but also the long and complex supply chain that they depend on.
Many companies were struggling to recruit enough staff to keep up with demand even before the pandemic. The wave of furloughs, layoffs and headcount reductions that followed have exacerbated the challenge. Even companies that managed to retain their staff through the pandemic, like JPB Système, are finding it tough to recruit for new positions across our manufacturing operations, as the industry gets back on its feet much quicker than anticipated.
Already big, and getting much bigger
In its Pilot and Technician outlook for the 2022-2041 period, Boeing estimates that 602,000 new pilots, 610,000 new maintenance technicians and 899,000 new cabin crew members will be needed to fly and maintain the global commercial fleet over the next 20 years1. This is in response to the global fleet increasing by 80% through 2041 compared to 2019 pre-pandemic levels2.
Even without the predicted growth there are already thousands of unfilled engineering and technician positions across the aerospace sector. Airbus recruited more than 13,000 new staff globally in 2022 — 10% of its current workforce — and plans to match that number in 2023.3 For manufacturers in the aviation supply chain the risks of being unable to keep up are very real.
Being part of the high-tech ballet
While the ‘glamourous’ end of flying is seen as being in the aircraft, the variety of exciting, fulfilling and financially rewarding roles in the manufacturing sector is immense. And it’s not greasy, dirty, manual labour either. Aircraft construction is more akin to a ballet of high-tech precision. Companies like JPB Système push the boundaries of technological innovation, embracing robotics, artificial intelligence and 3D printing in their workflows. Careers in aerospace engineering are almost by definition at the cutting-edge of what’s possible in manufacturing, and the cutting-edge is an exciting place to be.
We know that this challenge will continue develop over the next two decades — so the industry must start tackling this problem today.
JPB Système regularly brings school and university students into its facility to showcase its advanced industry 4.0 enabled production operations and enable the potential operators and engineers of tomorrow to see for themselves the exciting and inspiring workplaces the sector offers – workplaces that are a million miles from their preconceptions.
The preconceptions students have today are deep-rooted, coming from their parents and educators. We must come together as an industry to not only tackle the current recruitment challenge we are facing today, but also ensure that we constantly highlight our worth so that over the long term, we make the next generation excited to be part of the aviation sector.