The aerospace and defense sectors are still recovering from pandemic-related labor shortages and supply chain issues, and governments are increasing defense spending in response to geopolitics that seem to grow more volatile by the day. These aerospace industry trends will shape the sector through the next year.
The United States recently announced significant increases in its defense budget for 2020-2021 to bolster its armed forces against potential threats posed by adversaries such as China and Russia. Additionally, India has ramped up spending on military and security apparatus due to growing hostility with Pakistan, as well as increasing concerns over Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean region.
These geopolitical events are fueling an unprecedented level of innovation and investment in the aerospace and defense industries, leading to a surge of activity in related careers.
As governments pour money into these fields, new opportunities for highly qualified experts are becoming available on both a national and global scale. For those looking to break into this sector or advance their career, now is the time to do so.
In the civilian market, travel for business and pleasure has rebounded from the COVID-19 doldrums in 2020-21, putting more demand on manufacturers and the supply chains that feed them parts and materials.
As a result, it’s a seller’s market for aerospace-experienced labor and expertise. To keep their lines running, many big public aerospace companies and smaller original equipment manufacturers are partnering with staffing firms like SkillsetGroup to stabilize their workforces.
No matter how bullish the market is for aerospace and defense orders, no firm can compete without the labor to satisfy spikes in demand.
What Are the Latest Major Advances in the Aerospace and Defense Industries?
In 2023, a few major advances in aerospace and defense are likely to shape the industry:
Autonomous Flight Systems
Militaries worldwide will deploy autonomous flight systems for improved situational awareness, surveillance and search capabilities. This technology can reduce the need for human pilots in some areas and provide greater accuracy than manual operation of aircrafts. Additionally, this system can help speed up decision making processes, as it eliminates delays associated with communication between different groups or locations. The global market for autonomous aircraft, at $840 million in 2023, will likely grow to $1.09 billion by 2027, according to The Business Research Company's 2023 report.
Advances in robotics technology have enabled the development of systems that can interact with humans and assist them in completing complex tasks. Interactive robots are useful for a variety of military operations such as search and rescue, intelligence gathering, and logistics support. Additionally, these systems could potentially provide remote assistance to troops on the ground or develop better training simulations for pilots.
New developments in satellite manufacturing processes are making it easier to build high-performing satellites at a lower cost than previously possible. This increased efficiency will lead to more advanced satellites being developed for defense applications, such as communication and reconnaissance capabilities. Additionally, this could lead to new opportunities in the commercial space sector for companies that can leverage these technologies to launch their own satellite services. As satellite manufacturers standardize the hardware and produce large quantities of satellites more cheaply, software upgrades will drive functionality more than hardware innovations.
What does the Civilian Aerospace Market look Like in 2023-24?
The most prominent civil aerospace industry trend is an increasing demand for parts and assemblies from the OEMs in Tiers 2 and 3 of the aerospace supply chain. Increased global travel, both domestic and international, plus advances in aircraft technology and changes to regulations are driving this trend.
Giants like Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and others are filling their order books again, putting more pressure on Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers. These companies are struggling with the same labor and supply chain issues as the big companies, but may be less equipped to handle them.
The OEM ecosystem is still rebounding from the trauma of the 2020-21 COVID-19 pandemic. The two plague years cratered demand for air travel and scuttled some big aircraft orders. This forced many vital OEMs to shut down their lines. Expert technicians and engineers retired or left the industry.
How Are Tier 2 and 3 Aerospace Industry Suppliers Dealing with Increased Demand?
Tier 3 suppliers of parts and fittings that make up Tier 2 OEMs assemblies and parts are also affected. The logistics of shipping from China and other foreign markets where many of these clamps, bolts and fittings originate is still in disarray from the pandemic and political tensions.
As a result, major manufacturers in 2023-24 will still be struggling with scarce labor and supply chain problems that will continue to make recovery difficult.
As the OEM landscape continues to evolve, hiring practices at civilian aerospace manufacturers will be influenced by talent scarcity, economic conditions, government regulation and technological advancement. For example, as technology advances it encourages more sophisticated aircraft designs which consequently require advanced qualifications and skillsets. As such, the demand to hire experts from a range of disciplines will increase, creating greater competition for positions within the industry.
Furthermore, government regulations surrounding aviation safety can also affect hiring practices. Manufacturers must adhere to strict regulations in staffing production lines. This means aerospace companies look for talented professionals who are not only educated in their respective fields but also knowledgeable in the latest regulatory requirements.
How Do You find Qualified Aerospace Employees in this Tight Labor Market?
As aerospace giants and OEMs, alike, all compete for a shrinking labor pool of engineers, fabricators and IT experts, many are relying on staffing firms to stabilize their workforces.
Partnering with a staffing and consulting firm like SkillsetGroup can take the pressure off HR departments and position your firm for growth.
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- Brennan Inc., “What Are the Aerospace Supply Chain Tiers?” (2020).
- "Army research enables conversational AI between Soldiers, robots"
CCDC Army Research Laboratory Public Affairs
- "The Software-Defined Future of Satellites"
- Autonomous Aircraft Global Market Report 2023
The Business Research Company