The software talent gap in aerospace & defense

According to McKinsey & Company, the aerospace and defense sector is losing tech talent at an alarming rate. These hard to find candidates are fleeing to other sectors and large tech firms; in fact, there are about 50,000 unfilled positions in the industry, most of them in technology. Aerospace software and systems are becoming so expansive that the challenges in the complexity are doubling every 4 years. So how are companies tackling the software talent gap in aerospace and defense?

4 tips and tricks

  1. Rethink the Employee Value Proposition: traditional companies need to market to younger talent – those who are more interested in purpose, flexibility, collaboration, and inclusion. Think a “mission-first, software-centric proposition.”
  2. Change the approach to talent: aerospace and defense companies are typically paying entry level software engineers only half as much as the tech giants do. They also focus on base salaries, rather than offering performance based bonuses and stock awards. Lastly, they don’t offer as much flex / hybrid opportunities as the big tech players.
  3. Market to traditionally underrepresentation populations: women are are underrepresented in all levels of North American engineering-, industrial-, and manufacturing-heavy organizations.
  4. Improve retention by transforming into a healthier organization: 64% of global companies have better organizational-health scores than the median A&D company does. Healthy companies typically outperform others in threefold (in total shareholder returns). Employees who are engaged at work and have positive experiences are 8x more likely to want to stay.


In short, the aerospace and defense industry is in for a transformation – a change in decision making, innovation, and modernization. A&D start-ups are ahead of some of the older, more established companies because of their approach. They have redesigned workplace culture, opportunities to learn, and compensation initiatives. The A&D sector is transforming and needs to focus on the workforce of the future. If you’d like to learn more about how this gap is impacting organizations, connect with our Aerospace Leader, Larry Rubin.

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