Aerospace is a crucial and expanding industry that offers many opportunities for steady, good-paying jobs – and the demand for skilled workers is on the rise. Registered Apprenticeship offers a solution for both employers and jobseekers – creating opportunities for employers to develop the niche skills sets they rely on within their workforce, and for jobseekers to earn as they learn skills that will create pathways to family-sustaining careers.
Industry, labor, educational and government leaders met last month to discuss the value of Registered Apprenticeship for the future of the aerospace industry. Hosted by the U.S. Department of Labor and the White House National Space Council, the event highlighted how community colleges can help meet the needs of employers, especially in critical industries like advanced manufacturing and sectors such as aerospace, clean energy, automation, semiconductors and biotechnology. The event further highlights Vice President Kamala Harris’ emphasis on ensuring there is a skilled workforce available to maintain U.S. leadership in Space.
The event took place at Nunez Community College in Louisiana, whose Aerospace Manufacturing Technology Training program includes an apprenticeship component that allows students to receive paid, on-the-job training from NASA and other employer partners while receiving classroom education and credentials.
Representatives from Nunez Community College, Greater New Orleans Inc., Jobs for the Future, NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Laitram LLC, and the 1881 Institute discussed how Registered Apprenticeships are helping them build a skilled workforce and develop relevant skills and access pathways in their respective industries. And representatives from the White House National Space Council and the Department of Labor discussed how they're strengthening the space manufacturing workforce by bringing together industry, education, workforce and labor to develop Registered Apprenticeship programs to meet recruitment, training and retention needs.
The event concluded with a tour of NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility, also known as the Rocket Factory. On the tour attendees viewed the manufacturing and assembly of the Space Launch System and Orion capsule which will be used on the Artemis II mission, scheduled for late 2024 that will take humans beyond the moon to the farthest they have ever been in space. They also learned about the need for a skilled workforce across multiple occupations to make those upcoming missions possible.
We hope to support similar Registered Apprenticeship programs for other critical aerospace occupations to ensure tomorrow's workforce is equipped to support the nation's aerospace needs.
Quincy Brown is the director of space STEM and workforce policy for the White House's National Space Council. Manny Lamarre is a senior policy advisor in the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration.