Aerospace and Defense Industry

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Aerospace and Defense Industry: Layoffs

Over 22,000 employees have been dismissed by Raytheon and its competitors, Thales, The Boeing Company and Textron Aviation. One of the major contributing factor to the layoffs has been the adverse effect of the coronavirus on the aerospace and defense industries.


  • On July 29, 2020, Raytheon Technologies Corporation announced cut about 8,000 jobs in its commercial aviation business due to adverse impact of coronavirus on the aviation business.
  • On September 18, 2020, The company announced that it will layoff about 15,000 employees as a result of the downturn in commercial air travel.

The Boeing Company

  • Boeing laid-off about 6,770 employees in its "the first" wave of an expected round of job cuts due to the impact of coronavirus pandemic on the aerospace sector. According to the CEO, the affected employees will receive severance pay, COBRA health care coverage, and career transition services.
  • The layoff is part of Boeing's plan to reduce its payroll by about 10% globally.
  • In September, the company reduced its workforce by 750 employees. 580 of the laid-off employees are based in Washington state.
  • The company cut 600 jobs in Canada and Australia and announced that about 5,520 employees are taking buyout offers to leave voluntarily.


  • Thales laid off 128 employees in Irvine, California, "who work for its aviation arm Thales Avionics, The Los Angeles Times reported Thursday."
  • The company stated that the layoff was to curb the spread of coronavirus by adapting its working practices in line with the recommendations of the health authorities.

Textron Aviation

  • On July 14, 2020, it was published that Textron Aviation laid-off 80 employees in Wichita on July 1 and 250 employees on June 23.
  • The company further laid-off 800 employees, the majority of whom are located at our Wichita, Kansas facilities. Textron had previously disclosed in its SEC filing that it plans to eliminate 1,950 jobs as part of a restructuring program made necessary by the effects of the global coronavirus pandemic.
  • The three business segments the company plans to restructure are Textron Aviation, Textron Specialized Vehicles, and Tru Simulation + Training.
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Aerospace and Defense Industry: Hiring Trends

The disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have encouraged the US aerospace and defense industry to reimagine talent management. The companies in the industry are focusing on the existing challenge of boosting their technical and digital skills. More trends on the topic have been presented below, along with an outline of the research strategy.

Trend #1 — Searching Top Digital Talent

  • Since the aerospace and defense industry relies on the most advanced scientific expertise and technologies, the companies in the industry are focusing on hiring top digital talent.
  • The leaders in this sector acknowledge that having additional skills in rapidly evolving technologies, such as advanced analytics and automation, is very important for the future competitiveness of the industry. The industry is also looking forward to solving its remote working issues caused by the pandemic by hiring new talent in the tech sector.
  • In addition to the pandemic and the technological developments, the need for finding top digital talent in the industry is also driven by the fact that the companies in the industry have lesser workers with digital and analytics skills. According to a survey of US industry executives and an analysis of nearly 1.5 million job postings and employee profiles, only 30-43% of the employees in the US aerospace and defense industry possess digital and analytics skills, when "compared with 62% at tech companies."

Trend #2 —Developing New Strategies for Hiring Top Talent

  • Due to the high demand for top digital talent, the US aerospace and defense industry is facing many challenges while hiring new employees with digital and analytics skills. In order to overcome such challenges, the industry is developing new strategies.
  • Large technology companies, blue-chip companies, and start-ups have an ever-growing interest in digital talent. Therefore, the aerospace and defense industry is "competing against an increasingly diverse set of employers."
  • In addition to the competition, the industry is also facing hiring issues caused by the lack of qualified talent. Several major aerospace and defense companies are headquartered in the greater Washington, DC area. According to a survey conducted by McKinsey in collaboration with the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), the demand for tech talent in the area exceeds the supply by a ratio of nearly 2:1.
  • A majority of the companies in the survey expect the digital trends in the industry to bring a positive impact. However, they feel that they are unprepared to face the digital trends.
  • According to the same survey, almost 50% of the responding companies in the US aerospace and defense industry "list tech and advanced-electronics companies as their biggest competitors for talent, reflecting the increasing overlap between skills needed in the tech industry and those required in A&D."
  • The development of new and effective strategies for hiring top digital talent in the US aerospace and defense industry is driven by all the aforementioned challenges, such as high competition and lack of qualified talent. The industry is increasing the strategic requirements of HR to overcome these challenges.
  • The companies in the industry are improving their talent-engagement strategies to remain competitive. According to the survey, around 50% of the companies confidently feel that their new approach to talent engagement and management will help them to outperform their competition in the next five years.

Trend #3 — Negative Candidate Sentiment Towards the Industry

  • The sentiment of the candidates and prospective employees towards the US aerospace and defense industry is quite negative. The negative sentiment towards the industry is driven by the fact that many candidates believe that the sector does not offer sufficiently exciting opportunities and career development paths.
  • Even the company executives in the industry believe that their organizations are not very effective in finding and allocating talent.
  • In a survey of US aerospace and defense industry executives, 39% of the respondents agreed that "providing compelling careers is the biggest challenge to developing and retaining talent." The respondents also believe that their organizations are slow in allocating talent and have a bureaucratic approach.
  • The candidates often look for opportunities to put in and develop their digital skills quickly, and they don't want to wait for a long time to rise through organizational ranks. Therefore, the inability of the organizations in the US aerospace and defense industry to allocate top talent quickly is one of the factors preventing them from attracting top workforce entrants.

Additional Information

  • A report called the Aviation Week Network’s 2019 Workforce Study Report was released in September 2019. The study was "conducted in partnership with the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and PwC." The report also presents some insights and trends related to the topic.
  • According to the report, the companies in the US aerospace and defense industry increased their hiring beyond the expectations in 2018. This trend was driven by higher production in manufacturing and the requirement for expertise in emerging technological sectors, including autonomy and AI.
  • In 2019, the companies in the industry planned to hire 55,000 to 75,000 talents or more. Instead of focusing only on traditional manufacturing skills, they also focused on software and model-based engineering skills.
  • More interest was seen in aerospace and defense careers in 2019 "as 55% of black students, 49% of Hispanic/Latino students, and 48% of female students expressed an interest." Among the surveyed sophomore college students, 72% of the respondents were interested in aerospace and development industry careers.

Research Strategy

We started the research by searching for some trends in the US aerospace and defense industry that are specific to hiring and candidate sentiment. After extensive research, we were able to find a report published by McKinsey in collaboration with the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) that discussed the latest developments in the US aerospace and defense industry's workforce. The report also discussed some trends related to hiring and candidate sentiment that many companies in the US aerospace and defense industry were following. Since the trends were supported with data and statistics, corroborated across other reports, and published by credible organizations, we decided to include the trends in the research.

We also found some older US-specific insights and trends (from 2019) that were supported by statistics and published by credible organizations. Therefore, we have included older insights and trends in the research as additional information. In this way, we were able to find all the required information.
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Aerospace and Defense Industry: Overview

The US aerospace and defense market is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of more than 3% for the next 5 years. In 2019, the U.S. aerospace and defense industry generated sales of $909 billion, a 6.7% increase from 2018.

Industry Overview

  • The U.S. aerospace and defense industry generated sales of $909 billion in 2019, a 6.7% increase from 2018.
  • Of the sales, $399 billion was attributed to shared supply chain that supports the U.S. aerospace and defense sectors and 56% of the industry sales was attributed to end-use.
  • The industry sales contributed to a combined economic value of $396 billion representing 1.8% of the total U.S. GDP in 2019.
  • "Investments in the US aerospace industry is facilitated by the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) gold standard of aviation safety, enhancing the safety of aircraft and aircraft parts manufactured in the US."

Industry Growth

  • The A&D industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3% in the next five years.
  • One of the determining growth factors of the U.S. aerospace and defense industry is the increase in demand for commercial and military aircraft and an increase in defense spending.
  • Commercial aerospace attained a 7% growth in sales, and a 6.9% growth in its contribution to U.S. GDP.
  • The industry growth was mostly led by space systems, growing by 9% in sales from 2018. The subsector is positioned for more future growth fueled by the announcements of NASA's Artemis program and the founding of the U.S. Space Force in 2019.
  • Another factor contributing to the industry growth is the active role of the U.S. in the global political front which has led to an increase in demands for advanced aircraft, UAVs and satellites.
  • Increase in R&D activities has also been contributing to the growth of the industry by fostering technological advancements in platforms and associated products and solutions in the industry.


  • The U.S. aerospace and defense industry exports was valued at $148.1 billion in 2019 and imports were valued at $68.7 billion. The U.S. civil aerospace exports in 2019 were valued at $126.5 billion, a 4% decline from the previous year while the defense exports increased by 10.5% to a three-year high of $21.6 billion.
  • France was the U.S. top A&D export destination, importing $14.2 billion in American A&D products in 2019. The United Kingdom and Germany were the second and third biggest exporters of A&D products to the United States with $10.2 billion and $10.7 billion respectively.
  • Top import destinations were France, Canada, and the United Kingdom with $16.9 billion, $10.9 billion, and $6.4 billion respectively.
  • The State of Washington accounted for 15% of all U.S. A&D industry sales with $137 billion in statewide revenue, closely followed by California at $119 billion in A&D revenue.

Employment Data

  • In 2019, employees in the U.S. aerospace and defense industry represented 1.4% of the total workforce in the U.S.
  • There were approximately 2.2 million employees in 2019 compared to approximately 2.1 million employees in 2018, a 5% increase in the total industry workforce in 2018.
  • About 58% of the industry employment was attributed to the supply chain. Of aerospace and defense companies and end-use, commercial aerospace held the largest share of employees, 49% of the total workforce.
  • According to expert analysis, over 220,000 U.S. jobs are potentially at risks in the U.S. civil aviation workforce due to the unprecedented effects of COVID-19.

Competitive Landscape

  • The major players in the industry are The Boeing Company, Lockheed Martin Corporation, United Technologies Corporation, Honeywell International Inc., and General Dynamics Corporation.
  • The industry will still be dominated by the key players as trends shows they are investing significantly toward the R&D of sophisticated product offerings to gain long-term contracts and enhance their market shares.
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Aerospace and Defense Industry: Career Fairs / Hiring Conferences

A list of 12 career fairs or hiring conferences scheduled for 2021 for the aerospace and defense industry to be held in the United States has been presented on rows 3-14, columns A-D of the attached spreadsheet.

List Of Events

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Aerospace and Defense Industry: Industry Conferences

A list of 15 conferences for the aerospace and defense industries scheduled for 2021 in the United States has been presented in rows 3-17, columns A-D of the attached spreadsheet.

Selected Findings