Researchers to Examine Southeast’s Booming Growth of Aerospace Workforce

Boeing airplane

It’s no secret that in the Southeast, the workforce of the aerospace industry has experienced exponential growth. 

A study done by the University of South Carolina shows that ever since South Carolina began recovering from the Great Recession in 2010, annual employment growth in the aerospace cluster has been about eight times higher than the average growth rate of the state overall.  The Post and Courier reports that, according to the state Commerce department, the state’s aerospace industry is growing at nearly six times the state’s overall industrial growth.

But why is the Southeast’s job market in the aerospace industry growing so successfully?  After a 2015 national study showed that the Southeast actually has the highest percentage of job growth for the aerospace industry in the country, researchers have decided to examine the Southeast’s industry in detail by conducting the region’s first in-depth aerospace workforce study.

The study will be conducted by Penton’s Aviation Week Network partnered with industry cluster S.C. Aerospace and the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness.

Penton’s Aviation Week Network is the largest services and multimedia information provider for global aviation, aerospace, and defense industries, and S.C. Aerospace is a collaborative effort to advance and market the state’s aerospace industry on a global scale.  The S.C. Council on Competitiveness is a nonprofit workforce and industry development organization.

The study will include industry workers from Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida, in addition to South Carolina. 

Representatives from the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness and Aviation Week Network explained the importance of these types of studies and how the data collected can affect the industry as a whole.

“The information developed from this study will allow us to work with our state partners to develop policy recommendations for the southeast region,” said Ann Marie Stieritz, president and CEO of the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness. “More importantly, we will receive data for our state that will inform our next steps in preparing the workforce of the future and for extending the industrial base to meet the full needs of the aerospace industry.”

The data from these types of studies can significantly impact education, as predicted increases in the industry’s job market given in the 2015 national study has led to a higher demand for skilled workers.

“We have conducted our annual industry study since 1997,” said Greg Hamilton, Aviation Week Network president. “In that time, the data has led to aggressive actions throughout the industry to build engineering education resources throughout the country, to allow the industry to better compete with high tech employers for the best and brightest, and to encourage young people to pursue careers in this industry.”

The portion of the study conducted within South Carolina will be funded by the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission, the South Carolina Technical College System and the University of South Carolina.  The findings of the study will be released at the state’s Aerospace Industry Conference and Expo on August 24, 2016 in Columbia.