Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Technologies, L3Harris Technologies and other U.S. defense contractors are facing workforce challenges that mostly resulted from pandemic-driven layoff and furlough activities and are seeing supply chain problems compounded by staffing issues, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.
The downturn in employment numbers in the defense industry persists amid expectations of higher demand for military weapon systems and hardware due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and the Chinese military buildup.
According to the companies, many aging workers with specialized skills and/or security clearance to work on defense programs did not return to production.
“Labor is probably more of a challenge than the facilities themselves,” said Christopher Kubasik, CEO of L3Harris and a three-time Wash100 Award recipient. The company is eyeing contracting opportunities to supply radios, night vision goggles and intelligence and surveillance systems to Ukraine.
Greg Hayes, CEO of Raytheon, shared that the company and its suppliers only managed to secure 25 percent of those they had furloughed– a number way below the usual 75 percent turnout. “It is a hill to climb in the back half of the year,” he said.
During a company earning call, Jason Aiken, chief financial officer of General Dynamics, commented, “It’s less about parts or material availability. It’s about the availability of labor, the price and availability of skilled labor.”
The contractors are increasing employee pay and benefits as well as launching more job fairs to bolster recruitment and meet workforce gaps.