Business and Industry | Aerospace Industry
Taken as an aggregate, aerospace businesses make a significant contribution to employment
in the Inland Empire and Southern California. Many aerospace businesses are small
manufacturers that employ a small number of highly skilled workers such as engineers
and machinists. These businesses may also serve as training providers for local
aerospace education programs. Evidence at the national level suggests that these
skilled workers are nearing retirement age and that technical schools are not training
Our working hypothesis is that: technical schools in the region: (a) are underprepared
for the future needs of aerospace businesses whose workforce will be retiring in
the next 10 years; and (b) may not be optimally located with respect to the businesses
who employ their students.
We started by gathering data on regional schools and their aerospace training programs,
such as aviation maintenance and mechanical engineering (maps). We used ESRI’s Business
Analyst© data on business locations (InfoUSA Business Listings) to map aerospace
businesses according to their NAICS industry classification (maps). Each business
was assigned a “need index” according to the training area they require, and calculated
an “attractiveness index” for each school based on the programs they offer (maps).
We then used GIS and spatial analysis tools to calculate distance between schools
and businesses, and to evaluate the overall attractiveness of a school to aerospace
businesses for each program area like aerospace engineering (maps).
This approach can be taken with other types of industries that require a skilled
workforce to determine how well local and regional education programs supply business
needs. The question can be asked from the educational perspective as well, and inform
decision-making on optimal site selections and programmatic focus for their training
programs. What education programs are most needed by local businesses? What businesses
are most likely to employ our graduates, and where are they located? Our research
provides a first step in understanding the relationship between business needs and
education programs that will help to address the problem of an aging workforce.
Contributors: James Spee is Associate Professor of Business at the University of
Redlands. Suman Saket is a graduate student at the Xavier Institute of Management
and Entrepreneurship in Bangalore, India.