When looking at the aerospace industry in North Texas, there are a few key statistics that stand out in regards to the industry’s strength and breadth in the region:
- It comprises 489 of all the companies in the region.
- It employs more than 75,000 workers.
- It has generated over $10.5 billion in-region purchases.
- Nearly seven in ten aerospace jobs are located in North Texas.
The main takeaway from these considerable figures is that the aerospace industry in North Texas is a hotbed for skilled aviation and other related positions.
In response to this indisputable fact, North Texas has made a substantial push to develop programs that support workforce education and training to ensure the workforce needs of this industry are continuously met. A main contributor to the creation of these types of programs is the DFW Aerospace Consortium.
At its core, the DFW Aerospace Consortium is an industry employer-driven entity that addresses the education and workforce needs of the aerospace and aviation industries in North Texas. Established in 2003, the Consortium has achieved many successes over the past 16 years and has helped create a steady influx of skilled workers.
Groundwork for Continued Success
Due to an initial strong push out of the gate and unwavering dedication in the following years, the Consortium has been able to build a strong workforce foundation for Texas’s aerospace and aviation industries to stand on. During its establishment, the Consortium partnered with major aerospace and aviation companies in the region, specifically with Lockheed Martin, which has operations in North Texas.
Importantly, Lockheed Martin was instrumental in the creation of “Gotta Jet?” — the Consortium’s first big campaign that set the stage for the successful North Texas workforce pipeline we see today.
“Gotta Jet?” is an aerospace career awareness campaign that promoted industry-related careers to students and their parents. It was also the development of a common entry-level training program. This campaign was the first of its kind and can be marked as the backbone to Texas’s climb to the No. 2 state for aerospace.
Along with a marketing video that went viral on YouTube, over 30,000 brochures were distributed to students, teachers, career counselors and parents throughout the region. This successful outreach delivered a clear message to students in the region about the opportunities available to them and highlighted an accessible career path for students to receive their aerospace-related education in North Texas and join one of the many flourishing companies.
A Sky-High Re-Launch
In the late 2000s, the DFW Aerospace Consortium debuted the Aerospace Manufacturing Training Program (AMTP). At its inception, the goal of the AMTP was to develop a curriculum directly from aerospace industry training courseware that was consistent with the regulations across district and county lines so that aspiring individuals would have access to a training certification that would satisfy job requirements. Through partnering with related industry groups, the Consortium was able to create a high-quality AMTP curriculum which was transitioned into several Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs throughout the region.
As the years went on, however, the needs of the Texas aerospace workforce changed — which was made specifically clear by the North Texas Aerospace and Aviation Talent Pipeline Study the Consortium completed in 2017. The data showed that while the talent pipeline is working well in terms of supplying talent to jobs, there is an aging workforce and waves of retirements will soon be hitting the industry.
The re-launch of the AMTP in 2018 targeted that need by creating a program with a similar structure but new content that trains machinists and other industry-related positions to meet fifth-generation aircraft requirements. The revised AMTP training program has the potential to produce up to 24 program graduates from Tarrant County College every eight weeks.
As regions like Midlothian grow rapidly in aerospace, these positions will soon be in high demand and “The Next Generation Aerospace Manufacturing Training Program” will be here to help meet it.
Spurring Student Interest
The DFW Aerospace Consortium specifically focuses on igniting student interest in North Texas’s aerospace industry and offering opportunities to be trained for specific positions.
More recently, in 2016 the Consortium launched the FlyBy app. This is a mobile app dedicated to teaching students of all ages key aspects of aerospace and aviation through virtually flying the most sophisticated aircraft. “FLYBY DFW” is currently available for download through iPhone’s app store.
This is an effective strategy for getting the next generation’s workforce interested. National research shows that 91 percent of children ages 2-17 spend time gaming. By embracing gaming, North Texas’s Aerospace Consortium has landed on a new way to engage future aerospace and aviation industry professionals.
Full Speed Ahead to 2020
By conducting the 2017 Talent Pipeline study, one of the most in-depth examinations of the needs of the Texas workforce, the Aerospace Consortium has proved three things to North Texas and the rest of the United States:
- It is ready to continue supporting the rapidly growing aerospace and aviation industries.
- It is already predicting the workforce needs of tomorrow.
- It is preparing to meet those needs even before they occur.
There are many reasons why the aerospace industry grows at unfounded rates in North Texas. However, one of the biggest is the continued efforts of the Aerospace Consortium to build a strong workforce pipeline to the point where major position shortages are a rare occurrence.