The aerospace industry is undergoing a significant shift towards a more software-focused sector, where the role of software in controlling and managing various aspects of aerospace operations is becoming paramount. Traditionally, the technical skills needed in aerospace and defence (A&D) companies revolved around hardware engineering and manufacturing.  

However, the landscape is changing rapidly as software now plays a critical role in virtually every aspect of aerospace operations, from avionics and navigation systems to communication and data analytics.  

This transition is bringing about a new set of talent needs, particularly in the realm of software development, which is becoming increasingly complex and pivotal in driving innovation and efficiency in the aerospace industry. As a result, aerospace employers with legacy hardware talent are facing the challenge of addressing the skills gap and adapting to the changing dynamics of the industry. 

The current aerospace industry talent outlook

The aerospace talent market is evolving rapidly, with increasing demand for software-focused skills and the need to bridge the skills gap between legacy hardware expertise and emerging software requirements alongside an increasing consumerisation with companies being pushed to provide experiences that rival those they experience with consumer products.  
Software and digital technologies also play a huge part in the emerging trends affecting the sector including: 

  • Digitisation 

  • Artificial Intelligence  

  • Virtual reality and Immersive technologies 

  • Sustainability  

  • Additive manufacturing 

  • Industry 4.0 

As a result of this demand McKinsey estimates that A&D companies now hire two software engineers for every hardware engineer, yet 50,000 roles remain unfilled across the aerospace sector, the vast majority in technology. This is largely a result of increasing competition with the technology, consulting, and academic sectors for digital and software talent alongside workforce planning and talent acquisition strategies that fail to position aerospace and defence as an attractive employer of choice.

Building a robust talent strategy for the aerospace industry 

Building a robust talent strategy in the aerospace industry requires a proactive approach to attract, retain, and develop skilled professionals with a focus on both hardware and software expertise. Incorporate these ideas into your talent strategy to attract and retain the skills you need for success: 

1. Identify the skills and expertise needed 

Conduct a comprehensive analysis of the skills and expertise required for the aerospace industry, considering current and future industry trends and advancements, and comparing them with the skills your workforce currently has.  
Think about the additional skills required beyond those typically found in consumer-focused industries due to the specialised nature of aerospace and defence. This may include expertise in avionics systems, flight controls, navigation systems, communication protocols, safety regulations, and compliance standards specific to aerospace applications.  

2. Implement targeted recruitment efforts 

Aerospace employers must tap into wider, more diverse talent pools to address the talent shortage. By utilising a multi-channel approach to attract top talent, including job boards, social media campaigns, career fairs, and networking events, they can appeal to new talent streams. Partnering with an experienced specialist recruiter like Electus can be one way to explore, target and develop new ways to reach skilled talent. 

3. Offer competitive compensation and benefits 

The aerospace industry must work to understand what other industries competing for software and digital talent are offering and work to ensure that compensation and benefits packages are competitive. 80% of engineers want to work remotely at least 80% of the time and benefits packages should take those wishes into consideration, particularly if businesses want to attract younger talent.  

Working to make compensation and benefits more competitive may include salary benchmarking, offering performance-based incentives, and expanding professional development opportunities alongside greater flexibility and autonomy around working practices.  

4. Foster a positive and inclusive work culture 

Other industries also benefit from a reputation of being faster to innovate, more inclusive and having a more transparent, positive workplace culture. Traditionally the aerospace industry has been perceived as having a process-driven, rigid, and heavily regulated culture that makes innovation slow and which fails to appeal to much needed technology talent. 
Build a positive and inclusive work culture that values diversity, equity, and inclusion, and promotes collaboration, innovation, and work-life balance. Prioritise workplace safety and health, comply with regulatory requirements, and provide resources and training to ensure a safe and healthy work environment for employees. 

5. Develop a strong employer brand 

It’s also important to emphasise this positive workplace culture through a strong employer brandA compelling employer brand can highlight the unique aspects of the aerospace industry, such as cutting-edge technology, innovation, and career growth opportunities. As well as focusing on the mission-driven, purpose filled nature of the work involved. Employer brands that successfully attract tech talent might call attention to opportunities to disrupt the industry, enhance sustainability and take the sector into new spaces. 

6. Engage with industry associations and academic institutions 

Collaborate with industry associations and academic institutions to build relationships, promote the aerospace industry as an attractive career choice, and tap into talent pools through internships, co-op programs, and other partnerships. 

7. Retain and develop existing talent 

Implement strategies to retain and develop existing talent, including performance evaluations, career development plans, and recognition programs. Create clear career pathways and development opportunities for employees to progress within the organisation, including mentoring programs, training programs, and leadership development initiatives. 

For aerospace businesses seeking reliable and responsive recruitment solutions, look no further than Electus Recruitment. As a trusted recruiter of choice for the defence, aerospace, infrastructure, and energy sectors, Electus has a proven track record of providing top talent to the aerospace engineering industry. Contact us today to discuss your recruitment needs and benefit from our expertise in connecting businesses with skilled professionals in the aerospace sector.