Aerospace is and has long been a significant portion of the State of Washington’s economy. The Washington Aerospace Partnership takes it even a step further, stating: “aerospace is vital to Washington’s economy.”
The Washington Aerospace Partnership (http://www.washington-aerospace.com/) is but one of several state organizations leading the effort “to keep Washington the leading location for aerospace.” Other notable proponents include: the Aerospace Futures Alliance (AFA; http://www.afa-wa.com/) and the Washington Council on Aerospace (WCA).
The AFA represents aerospace companies in advocating on critical issues for the aerospace industry. The WCA, on the other hand, coordinates and organizes the work of the Washington State Government in workforce training, research and development, and business recruitment, retention, and expansion.
“Washington’s competitive advantage in aerospace is weakening,” reveals the WCA in its report to the governor and legislature dated January 1, 2010. “Washington has not been competitive for several recent high-profile aerospace investments, including the Honda Jet program (North Carolina), the Bombardier C-Series (Quebec), a Rolls Royce engine plant (Virginia), a new Spirit Aerosystems facility (North Carolina), the Global Aeronautica joint venture (South Carolina), and most recently, the second line for the 787.
“Against our competitor states and provinces, we are at a disadvantage in areas of incentives offered, R&D expenditures, and labor costs,” the WCA continues in its report. “Our aerospace labor force is aging, and our education and training system is not meeting current and future industry needs.”
The aerospace industry in general has steadily been renewing its focus on education and training. The goal is not only to advance the capabilities of the current workforce, but also to attract new talent by encouraging students to work on all things aerospace. This geek was enticed to enter the military and aerospace (mil/aero) industry decades ago. With the promise of inventing or working on sexy, cool, new spacecraft and aircraft platforms, systems, and technologies, who wouldn’t consider it?