Charter Accomplished, More Work Ahead

Administrator Stephen M Dickson (August 12, 2019 - present)

Opening Remarks

Thanks, Jeannie. And thanks to everyone for joining us today for this update.

This coming Monday, May 24, happens to be Aviation Maintenance Technician Day. As a former fighter pilot, and commercial aviator, there is nothing more important than having a safe, fully functioning aircraft. Aviation Maintenance Technicians make sure we have it.

This day is a chance to pay tribute to some of the hardest working and dedicated people in the industry. They are unsung heroes who make it possible for people to safely fly and for us to have a vibrant aerospace system.

In the coming years, we’re going to need a lot more aviation maintenance technicians.

We’re also going to need new pilots, engineers, dispatchers, and air traffic controllers. We’re going to need more mechanics and drone operators.

And we’re going to need cybersecurity specialists, data analysts, programmers, developers, and other professionals who play an essential role in the modern aerospace field, which as we know is evolving rapidly.

Both the FAA and industry are making it a high priority to attract this future workforce.

Prior to COVID-19, there was an urgency surrounding the potential shortage of employees in the pipeline to fill critical positions, notably pilots and mechanics.

We were already seeing an aging workforce. And retirements were sped up to some extent by the pandemic.

But when it comes to attracting the next generation, the aerospace field faces challenges.

There is strong competition from other sectors.

There are also higher training costs and time commitments, especially for new pilots.

Add onto that quality of life issues, a desire for schedule predictability, and job volatility because of the cyclical nature of some segments of our industry. It can all be discouraging. 

When we face complex challenges like these, the FAA will periodically form executive oversight committees and virtual offices with time-limited charters, so we can make special efforts in areas that require cross-agency collaboration.

That’s what we did here. We formed the FAA Aerospace Workforce Steering Committee in early 2019. It was an outcome of an FAA-sponsored symposium with industry, government, and academia on potential workforce shortages for pilots and mechanics.

The initial purpose of this Committee was to follow up on industry recommendations and to maintain the momentum within the FAA and with our partners.

This Committee also became a forum to implement the FAA’s STEM and Aviation and Space Education goals and objectives, and implement the agency’s many Congressionally-assigned workforce provisions in our 2018 Reauthorization bill.

Fast forward two years later – this Steering Committee has now accomplished its charter and will soon be sunset. The Committee’s specific initiatives have now been embedded into the FAA’s strategic goals and plans.

Let me say a firm thank you to all of our stakeholders. We very much appreciate your input, recommendations, and partnership.

Today, as Jeannie said, we will update you on the Committee’s progress to date, and provide you with the points of contact in the agency who will continue to lead the enduring initiatives and programs.

Thank you again, and now our Deputy Administrator Brad Mims will stress a few points.

Closing Remarks

This has been a great session. I appreciate the continued engagement by everyone throughout this community.

The Aerospace Workforce Steering Committee has achieved its founding purpose. We’ve embedded these efforts and programs into the agency’s strategic plans.

We have several efforts to be proud of:

STEM programs like Adopt-a-School and the Airport Design Challenge.

Also, we launched the Aviation Workforce Development grants.

And we stood up the Women in Aviation Advisory Board and the Youth Access to American Jobs in Aviation Task Force.

We’ve also looked at ways to reduce regulatory barriers to entry to an aerospace career. We’ve looked at ways to make the pathways easier.

And we’ve made good progress on implementing four new grant programs that will be further tools for developing the future workforce. 

We look forward to our continued work with you to conduct education and career outreach.

Years from now, we’ll look back and know that the efforts we are all making today – as an aerospace community – brought about the vibrant, diverse workforce that will be second to none in the aerospace field throughout the world tomorrow.

Thanks everyone. And please continue to stay safe.