Skip to Content

Opening Statements

Kim: “Moving Upwards and Onwards: The Workforce and Innovation Needs of the Aviation and Aerospace Industry”

Subcommittee Ranking Member Young Kim

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, The House Small Business Subcommittee on Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Workforce Development held a hybrid hearing on “Moving Upwards and Onwards: The Workforce and Innovation Needs of the Aviation and Aerospace Industry.”

Subcommittee Ranking Member Young Kim’s opening statement as prepared for delivery:

Thank you, Chairman Crow, for holding this hearing, and thank you to our witnesses for testifying.

Over the past few years, small businesses within the aviation and aerospace industries have been met with unparalleled economic headwinds, including labor shortages, supply chain disruptions, and soaring costs.  These industries are vital to our economy as they produce both military and civil aircrafts, facilitate trade and tourism, and connect Americans worldwide.

Small businesses play a key role in aviation and aerospace; according to the Census- Statistics of U.S. Businesses, 94.3 percent of all firms that provide air transportation are considered small businesses and almost 88 percent of aerospace firms are small businesses.

One of the biggest challenges these firms are facing is the unprecedented labor shortage. The most recent Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary reported 11.5 million job vacancies. To make matters worse, employers continue to face record numbers of workers leaving their jobs; in March, 4.5 million workers quit their jobs. These trends persist even as nearly half of small business owners have reported job openings they could not fill.

Workforce shortages are not a new issue to the aviation and aerospace industries. In fact, this Committee held a hearing back in 2018 on this exact issue. Unfortunately, COVID-19 exacerbated the shortages by encouraging early retirements among airline and aerospace workers uncertain about the career prospects in a sector that was almost entirely shut down for months.

According to the Regional Airline Association, the United States will lose about half of its pilots to retirement in the next 15 years. Further, a recent survey found a lack of technical staff as the top disruptor for the aviation maintenance and repair sector over the next 5 years. A pilot and technician shortage affects not only the airlines but also the millions of Americans who fly each year

Another issue that is contributing to the workforce shortage is the growing skills gap. These sectors rely on highly skilled workers to build aircrafts, satellites, missiles, and conduct maintenance and safety tests.  According to a recent study by Deloitte, the manufacturing skills gap in the U.S. could result in 2.1 million unfilled jobs by 2030. The cost of these missing jobs could total $1 trillion in 2030 alone.  The lack of skilled labor is a major concern and if not addressed, could have serious impacts on our economy.

From finding and retaining skilled labor to supply chain issues and skyrocketing costs, and disruptive inflation and energy prices, our small businesses are facing a multitude of economic hurdles that threaten to close their doors. 

I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today on how we can better support them, and I hope to work with my colleagues to find real solutions to alleviate the increasing economic challenges that our small businesses are facing every day.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.