Aviation and aerospace sector leaders say their industries can continue to grow in Indiana, but recruiting and training enough talented workers remain vexing challenges for companies that seem otherwise poised for further expansion.
Some of Indiana’s largest players in that space—from Rolls-Royce to Raytheon to Alcoa to Republic Airways Holdings—said Thursday that a key challenge is making aerospace and aviation a “cool” career when marketing it to recent college graduates who are more interested in major technology firms like Apple or Google.
“We need to make sure we advertise the things we do in our aerospace or aviation companies,” said Freddie Sarhan, vice president of Indianapolis-based Praxair Surface Technologies. “They are cool. They are high-tech. They are breakthrough. Most of our companies are business-to-business. We don’t market these skill sets to the general population. You need to speak the same language.”
Executives from several major companies in the sector discussed those challenges at IBJ's Aviation & Aerospace in Indiana event Thursday morning at the downtown Indianapolis Marriott.