The Texas Space Leadership Council (TSLC)--composed of NASA/JSC, the
Economic Development Foundation, United Space Alliance, and NASA contractors Boeing,
Raytheon and Lockheed Martin--has been experiencing a shortage of qualified engineers.
This shortage has resulted in a number of key positions going unfilled and an overworked
staff which in turn results in a loss of competitiveness in the aerospace industry due to low
productivity, insufficient product and delays. This needs assessment was requested by the
TSLC to assess the causes for this shortage and to make recommendations on how to attract
and retain more and better-qualified workers. The specific problem to be addressed is the
declining number of entry-level engineers in the aerospace industry as measured by human
resources hiring records.
This assessment determined the optimal number of incoming engineers
based on current
and projected employment needs versus the actual number of incoming engineers gathered
from such sources as the National Science Foundation, the National Bureau of Labor
Statistics, Texas Workforce Commission. Additional data were gathered through interviews
with representatives of the local space industry such as the Clear Lake Economic
Development Resources Department and the NASA/JSC Human Resources department.
Possible causes and recommended solutions were also obtained through these interviews
and facilitating groups.
This assessment found that TSLC and NASA are suffering from the same
qualified workers that is currently affecting organizations in all high-tech fields. The number
of available jobs in these fields is growing far faster than the number of college students pursuing degrees in these same fields. In addition, other private organizations are better
able to compensate their workers and are therefore better able to attract and retain
well-qualified engineers than NASA and its contractors. Our recommendations include a
combination of interventions ranging from better compensation to the promotion of science
and the space program in order to encourage more American school children to choose
science and engineering as a career.
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