The wisdom of investing in a future workforce

Posted On May 23, 2019

What can small businesses learn from large corporations about attracting and training employees? Surely, the hiring process at a major international company like Airbus has nothing in common with that of, say, a Mom-and-Pop pizzeria.

But is there anything they can learn from each other?

Our guests in the latest episode of “What’s Working With Cam Marston” are intimately involved in Airbus’ hiring and workforce development efforts in Mobile. Michelle Hurdle is Director of Economic and Community Development at Airbus Americas, and Kristi Tucker is its Director of Communications.

Airbus opened the final assembly line for its A320 line of passenger aircraft in Mobile in 2015 and is currently adding an assembly line for the A220 line here after acquiring a majority stake in the Canadian Bombardier C Series line.

Recently, the company announced two programs designed to attract and train young people interested in joining its workforce and starting a career in aerospace. The FlightPath 9 program is a skills training program for high school seniors, and Fast Track is a workforce development program in which those young people would continue training as full-time employees.

“We’re looking at investing in our youth here in the community to build an aerospace workforce,” Tucker says. “How do we help them gain that aerospace career if they have the means or don’t have the means to go to school to get it?”

While a global corporation like Airbus has far more resources than a locally owned small business to run such training programs, Tucker says some of the methods it uses to attract a workforce can be applicable to any business, like creating partnerships with local school systems — such as, in its case, B.C. Rain High School’s Aviation and Aerospace Academy – and paying attention to soft skills and how to measure them.

Tucker and Hurdle also share with us the factors that attracted Airbus to Mobile (and that an inexpensive workforce wasn’t actually at the top of that list), how a passenger on an Airbus jet can tell if that plane was built in Mobile, what effects they expect technological advances to have on the workforce of the future in aerospace, and the first question they typically get from parents of students interested in training for a career at Airbus.

Join us for a high-flying discussion about aviation, manufacturing and training a workforce.

Categories: What's Working with Cam Marston, Workplace