Easily three-quarters of the jobs that companies plan to add are in defense and security—again, assuming sequestration is somehow averted—and 10% will require security clearances. But with even the most optimistic CEOs predicting that defense spending will decline at the rate of inflation in 2013 and 2014, sharp drops are projected in defense and security hiring. Space is even more dismal: Respondents expect just 200 hires next year in the sector.
•Pushing out retirement. Slightly more than 12% of the industry's workforce were eligible for retirement in 2011; a mere 1.2% took it.
The highest rates of actual retirement for 2011 were in hourly production and the R&D job functions. Hourly manufacturing employees were twice as likely to take retirement as other employees. The challenge is bigger for the largest of companies, where more than 25% of employees are eligible to retire, a figure that will rise to 30% by 2013.
If the economy rebounds and lifts the value of 401(k) plans, will the industry be hit with a wave of retirements? It seems likely that not all retiree positions will be filled. More than 200,000 workers could retire by 2015, yet Aviation Week's survey finds that companies are planning to make just 120,000 hires during that time.
So far, the retirement deferrals have largely protected companies from brain drain. But the flip side is that there is no headroom to promote younger workers—the traditional way to recognize quality work. Aviation Week's study indicates that recognition and the ability to contribute to meaningful work are critical to engaging employees, of all ages, in the business. This will be among the most significant challenges faced by companies.
Despite budget cuts and the stalemate in Congress, the industry must continue to hire. Headcount will drop owing to the combination of retirements, voluntary attrition and slower hiring. But make no mistake; hiring will continue. In an industry where development cycles stretch into years but 14% of 2011 revenues came from new products, organizations must learn to balance the needs of talented people of all ages.
The winners, say members of the study advisory team, will be the organizations that can identify the people they need, by name, what they're working on and the risk of their leaving.
Such companies will define jobs more specifically, with clarity around the skills required. They will partner with universities to create internships and cooperative job experiences that pull young people into the industry, and they will offer them the kinds of pay, sign-on bonuses and other benefits needed to lure them away from other high-stake industries. Employers will brand and market themselves to the sharpest minds on college campuses and in other industries, while paying attention to the needs of current employees. Most important, the winning organizations' leaders will rally the troops behind a clear vision of what needs to be done.
So what happens to Anthony Eddy? The data indicate that young professionals continue to look for jobs, but the rate of voluntary attrition has dropped from more than 20% three years ago to 12% in 2011. Of those who looked for a new job in 2011 and found one, 20% left A&D for another industry. But Eddy does not think he will be joining them.