What Can A&D Learn From the COVID Pandemic?

It’s been six decades since the space race began in earnest, and these missions continue to inspire awe and public excitement. But rather than focusing on the brave people of NASA, industry start-ups tend to figure prominently. Many A&D companies have an important role in the public consciousness, as well as a strong reputation for inspiring progress. Yet many A&D companies have faced serious hurdles during the coronavirus pandemic. One of the biggest obstacles we consistently see with these companies—both as they grow and when they enter the M&A process—is that their recruitment and talent strategies have failed to keep up with the current market demands or with their needs. 

The post-pandemic recovery is an ideal time to evaluate your talent strategy. Investors want to see that you have the right people at the helm, as well as exceptionally competent staff working below them. We’re seeing increased competition for digital talent, a push for remote and flexible work, and a hiring landscape that heavily favors companies that value their workers and give them strong incentives. We further anticipate that both tech skills and strong social skills will become critical in the next few years. Here’s what you need to know as you prepare your talent strategy to meet whatever comes next. 

The Headwinds Are Changing 

Despite many positive trends in A&D, we’re seeing some changes that can make attracting the right team challenging. For instance, engineers want to oversee a program from start to finish, while companies might require focus on a single project within a larger program. This adds to the perception of bureaucracy slowing things down. 

The A&D reputation for innovation has also weakened, so it’s critical to communicate the specific value you offer, and show team members how they can become part of important innovations. You must also offer highly competitive salaries, lest you lose the most promising team members to Silicon Valley. 

Recurring A&D Talent Challenges

Some of the most common issues we see with A&D companies include: 

  • a weak talent pipeline
  • an older, more tenured workforce that is moving toward retirement
  • less willingness to put employees in digital roles 
  • poor diversity and equity work, and in some cases, a hostile or discriminatory environment 

Managing Workforce Challenges

The top A&D talent will be in high demand for the foreseeable future, so if you want to hire a diverse range of qualified people, you must be prepared to compete. These tips can help you do just that: 

  • Tell a compelling story about life in A&D generally, and life at your company specifically. 
  • Expand the talent pipeline via strategic partnerships and investments in new skills for your team. 
  • Know that diversity, inclusion, and equity are not optional. Companies with ethnically diverse leaders are simply more successful, and better equipped to anticipate challenges their peers miss. Gender diversity, too, creates a better work environment, and ensures you get the top talent—rather than missing out on 51% of the workforce.