RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • To navigate the current crisis and make their businesses more productive, leaders need to embrace a truly human approach.
  • The ability to digitize the business and create an elastic digital workforce will be a key factor in long-term business continuity.
  • 86% of Aerospace and Defense leaders recognize that new technologies and data will transform the agility and efficiency of their business.
  • Technology can help leaders to bridge generational divisions in the sector’s workforce.


Talent in the digital age

A changing workforce

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has exacerbated an issue already facing the Aerospace and Defense industry: the difficulty of finding skilled labor and creating a culture that helps talent thrive. Now more than ever, leaders need to recruit the right talent and to provide them with the skills and tools that they need to drive growth and innovation.

Even before COVID-19, important new workforce trends were emerging in the sector. Prior to the pandemic, Aerospace and Defense leaders were already looking to digitize their organizations to ensure long-term business continuity. This means providing workforce with the skills and organizational structure to facilitate this transformation. The current crisis has made this more urgent.



But what are the rewards for those who can transform their organizations? If leaders successfully navigate this changing landscape, embrace digital transformation and adopt a truly human approach to leadership and transparency, they will ensure that their businesses are more productive, resilient and agile than ever before.

Industry trends

Three major trends are shaping the future of the workforce in the Aerospace and Defense industry:

1. Digitizing business

Even in the middle of a pandemic, businesses are still moving to replace and integrate their HCM and/or IT systems across a lean, digital enterprise. Executives are especially keen to take advantage of new technological initiatives such as DevSecOps, RPA and Move-to-Cloud.

2. Digital skills

Companies will need to invest in training both new and existing staff, and also create space for new roles that will enable the use of AI, including trainers, explainers and sustainers.

3. The generational divide

More than a quarter of the Aerospace and Defense workforce in the United States is over the age of 55, and the connection between senior teams and new talent appears to be broken. To fix it, senior leadership should focus on creating a new culture of transparency, collaboration and knowledge sharing that embraces all generations.

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Companies will need to invest in training both new and existing staff, and also create space for new roles that will enable the use of AI.

Digital leaders vs laggards

Despite the need to create a new culture that encourages digital adoption, Aerospace and Defense organizations have not always been able to adapt to a fast-changing landscape. Indeed, a significant majority of leaders in this sector - 69% - believe that their employees are more digitally mature than their organization.

Why is this? While leaders recognize the benefits of new technology and smarter use of data, it’s not always easy to bring whole organizations on side with new initiatives, especially in a sector with an older than average workforce, many of whom may be less at ease with digital technologies than their digitally native counterparts.

Leaders can expect 9% revenue growth after adopting new technologies, while those that do not adopt them stand to lose $20 billion over the next five years.

Unlocking trapped value

Yet the incentives to modernize are clear. Leaders can expect 9% revenue growth after adopting new technologies, while those that do not adopt them stand to lose $20 billion over the next five years. Nearly 90% of Aerospace and Defense leaders recognize that new technologies and untapped sources of workplace data can be used to unlock value that is currently “trapped” in the enterprise.

What else is needed to unlock this value? Talent and the right organizational culture. And senior middle management and those at the top will be key to facilitating this. Rather than seeing the pandemic as a crisis, they need to see it as an opportunity to bridge the generational divide through technology and to develop a pipeline for future talent.

Where to begin?

Which specific areas do Aerospace and Defense leaders need to consider to make their organizations more agile, and to future-proof their business through digital innovation?

  • Organization, leadership and culture
    Companies must work with their HR teams to create a clear digital learning roadmap for their employees. This will ensure that workers are fully equipped to drive change. Tenured middle management and those at the top will be key. They can use their wisdom and experience to analyze data and use those insights to mentor the next generation.
  • An elastic workforce
    As well as providing training, leaders also need to think about how they can change the structure of their organization to promote agility and elasticity. This might, for example, mean reimagining key components of the business.
  • A people-centered, inclusive culture
    Finally, Aerospace and Defense organizations need to ensure that they are cultivating an inclusive working culture and empowering the voice of the employee. This will help to unite a multi-generational workforce, close the growing digital skills gap and prepare for future talent.
Companies must work with their HR teams to create a clear digital learning roadmap for their employees.

John Schmidt

Senior Managing Director – Aerospace & Defense, Global


Jessica Kane

Managing Director

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