Attracting and retaining talent in the aerospace industry has always been challenging but it has proved especially difficult over the past few years due to the rise of high-tech companies in other fields. The shortage has put many companies in a fierce competition for the best and the brightest. As a result, the industry is looking for professionals with a new skillset that includes management of communication abilities.
“After the pandemic, we are looking for quick, adaptable and flexible professionals that know how to balance technical and personal skills such as teamwork, empathy and skills on personal communication,” said Efrain Pérez, Talent Acquisition and Compensation Manager, Safran.
The aerospace and space sectors are increasingly looking for professionals to work in satellites, communication, aviation and air observation, among other areas. This means seeking workers with diverse backgrounds that can leverage new technologies like additive manufacturing, robotics, modeling and simulation. These workers must also be capable of using the latest virtual tools to help accelerate production to meet the demand. For example, the Mexican Space Agency (AEM) needs experts in the analysis and processing of satellite images, remote sensing and air observation, said its General Director Salvador Landeros Ayala.
There is an urgent need to educate and train professionals in space and space exploration, said Landeros. “Missions to the moon and mars are far too advanced for Mexico not to have prepared professionals to join,” he added. “This would also require professionals trained on space medicine, chemistry and biology to identify ancient organic compounds on Mars.”
Beyond training a new aerospace workforce, the industry is also reincorporating the displaced employees who lost their jobs as a result of the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the past six months, the industry has reintegrated 5,000 workers that were let go during that period. “As we hire more people, we are noticing that a lot of people come from other states of the country, specially from the northern region of Mexico,” said Pérez.
The need for professionals in this industry makes integration and reintegration easy, said Pérez. He added that recruiters are looking for experience and skills. Thus, “competent professionals will for sure have a place at Safran.”
While the space industry is growing rapidly, it “did not have displaced workers; we are currently hiring and investment in this sector is growing, meaning that we need more people for the incoming projects that this investment will generate,” said Landeros.
French planemaker Airbus reports a similar situation: “We are growing and facing a ramp up,” said Ana Molina, Human Resources Senior Manager, Airbus Helicopters México Querétaro. “We are receiving colleagues that share our values of creativity, respect and innovation. As such, we provide our current workers with the skills for novel technologies and novel consumption behavior.”
The aerospace industry is highly dynamic, said Pérez, so workers have the opportunity to move and grow quickly. Thus, each company needs to ensure it offers the best conditions to their employees. “As a company, we need to be more conscious about our talent and offer personalized benefits that are attractive to new generations with things such as home office, insurance and attractive mobility options so employees can work internationally to expand their knowledge,” said Pérez.
Beyond on the job training, the industry needs to rely on academia. “We need more undergraduate and graduate programs at universities. We currently have very few programs for the space industry and we are going to need many experts in the coming years so we need to start enhancing education, not just in aerospace but in space careers,” said Landeros. This should not be difficult as universities already have programs for telecommunications, computer science and mechanics, among other technical careers, he added.
“We are currently experiencing a period of opportunity to innovate and recreate the good practices we have been working with to reach more professionals,” said Molina. “Thus, if we teach them the right skills, these professionals will come to our companies as long as we have the right offer to respond to their talent.”
Mexican talent is recognized around the world for its quality, said Enrique Sosa, Dean, UNAQ. “There are many Mexican experts in aerospace and aeronautics but there is indeed an urgency to retain them in the country.”