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Telling the A&D story: How better messaging can solve our talent crisis 

Lydia Aldejohann
Jul 3, 2024

Neither of us woke up one-day thinking, ‘I want to work in aerospace and defense.’ Yet here we are, passionate advocates for an industry we stumbled into almost by accident. 

One of us started in law, consulting, and even oil and gas. The other moved from a background in telecommunications to A&D. Our journeys, though, share a common thread: the desire to be part of something bigger, something that matters. 

We often forget that idea when crafting the job descriptions, we hope will attract the best and the brightest. We expect candidates to already be passionate about our industry without telling them why they should be.

The problem isn’t the work – it’s how we talk about it. We need to show that A&D isn’t just about hardware; it’s about solving humanity’s biggest challenges.  

An industry at a crossroads 

While so many of us have discovered the hidden gem that is A&D, the industry itself is grappling with a less glittering reality.  

The A&D industry isn’t exactly known for its agility. Don’t get us wrong: aerospace is cutting-edge stuff, but many companies are held back by long development cycles, heavy regulation, and a focus on traditional hardware production. Unlike rapidly evolving sectors like software and services, A&D companies often struggle to integrate the latest innovations quickly. 

This creates a widening chasm between the industry’s talent needs and its ability to attract top candidates. Today’s emerging professionals seek dynamic environments where they can engage with cutting-edge technologies and make a tangible impact. A&D offers these opportunities in abundance yet struggles to communicate this reality to potential recruits effectively. 

The result is a talent pool that often overlooks A&D in favor of industries perceived as more innovative, despite our sector’s critical role in shaping the future. 

Global conflicts and shifting budgets only compound these challenges, highlighting an urgent need for skilled professionals in a rapidly changing landscape. 

But how do we bridge this gap? The answer may lie in one of our most basic, yet overlooked tools: our job postings. 

Our job postings don’t tell the whole story 

Imagine you’re a young professional browsing job posting, seeking a role where you can make a meaningful impact. You come across an A&D listing. Instead of being inspired, you see a dense block of text filled with KPIs, technical jargon, and rigid requirements. It’s hardly the motivational call to action you were hoping for.

The way jobs are advertised doesn’t promote the characteristics of the roles that would attract diverse candidates. Job ads need to evolve to reflect the broader impact and purpose of the roles. Rather than listing qualifications and responsibilities in dry, technical terms, job ads should tell a compelling story about the difference one can make in the industry.  

For example, instead of saying, “Requires proficiency in XYZ software and 5+ years of experience,” a job ad could say, “Join our team and use cutting-edge technology to solve complex problems that safeguard our nation and improve lives. Your expertise in XYZ software will directly contribute to innovations in defense systems that protect millions.” This approach doesn’t discard the important technical requirements but places them within an inspiring narrative. 

By showcasing how roles in A&D contribute to national security, technological advancement, and societal well-being, we can attract individuals motivated by purpose and impact while still ensuring we recruit candidates with the necessary technical skills and experience. 

Crafting new narratives  

Addressing the PR challenge 

Our industry faces a significant PR challenge amidst ongoing geopolitical conflicts and debates around defense spending. It’s no surprise some of the younger generation is hesitant to make the jump. The ethical considerations are complex, and the public perception of our work can be polarizing.  

Yet, beyond these contentious issues, our industry is at the forefront of technological advancement, from developing sustainable aviation solutions to pioneering space exploration.  

The issue isn’t that we’re behind the times – it’s that we’re not telling our story well enough. We need to shine a spotlight on the diverse, impactful work happening across A&D. This includes: 

  • Highlighting roles beyond traditional engineering, such as those in environmental sustainability, data science, and digital transformation. 
  • Showcasing our commitment to solving complex global challenges, from climate change to national security. 
  • Emphasizing the opportunity for individuals to work on projects with far-reaching societal impact. 
  • Illustrating the collaborative nature of our work, where diverse teams come together to tackle multifaceted problems. This collaboration extends to both private and public sectors. We also engage in international cooperation, working with allies and partners around the world to drive innovation and address global challenges. 

By refocusing our PR efforts, we can attract individuals who are passionate about making a difference.  

Practical steps for effective storytelling 

Effective storytelling can transform how potential recruits perceive the A&D industry. Here are some practical steps for achieving this: 

  • Showcase real-world impact: Move beyond listing technical requirements. Instead, vividly illustrate how roles contribute to addressing critical global challenges. Highlight projects that have tangible effects on national security, space exploration, or environmental sustainability. 
  • Appeal to purpose-driven candidates: The next generation of professionals seeks meaningful work. Demonstrate how A&D roles offer opportunities to tackle significant issues, from advancing clean energy technologies to pioneering breakthroughs in artificial intelligence for humanitarian applications. 
  • Emphasize innovation and cutting-edge technology: Showcase the industry’s role at the forefront of technological advancement. Describe how A&D professionals work with state-of-the-art tools and technologies, often years ahead of commercial applications. 
  • Highlight career growth and diverse opportunities: Illustrate the vast array of career paths within A&D. From engineering to cybersecurity, from project management to research and development, emphasizing the potential for diverse and evolving career trajectories. 
  • Share collaborative achievements: Share stories of diverse teams solving complex problems. For instance, describe how interdisciplinary groups develop new sustainable aviation technologies or digital defense systems, showcasing both innovation and collaboration. 
  • Connect to global impact: Frame roles within the context of global challenges and opportunities. Whether it’s contributing to climate change mitigation through more efficient aircraft design or enhancing global connectivity through satellite technology, emphasize the far-reaching implications of A&D work. 

Purpose-driven talent: The lifeblood of A&D’s future 

The aerospace and defense industry isn’t just competing for contracts; we’re in a global race for talent. Our future hinges on our ability to attract, retain, and nurture the brightest minds from diverse backgrounds. 

Without effectively communicating our story, we risk losing the next generation of innovators to industries that have mastered the art of self-promotion. Software companies, tech giants, and even gaming industries have captured the imagination of young talent with narratives of innovation, impact, and exciting work environments. 

Yet, the work we do in A&D is critical to global security, technological advancement, and societal progress. If we don’t get that point across, we risk having impressive technology but no one to implement the critical tasks of defending, building, and connecting the nations.  

The question then becomes: How do we craft a narrative that makes the next generation of talent say, “That’s where I want to be”?  

Join us at FIA to start a conversation. You can find us in Booth 1211 (Hall 1, Pioneers of Change Zone) or Chalet C130. In the meantime, click here to learn more about our presence and follow us on LinkedIn to get updates on our presence and read insights from my colleagues. Through collaboration, we can accelerate towards an intelligent future that is connected and sustainable. 

Learn more about Capgemini Aerospace and Defense: 

Digital Continuity in Aerospace 

Digital Twins in Aerospace and Defense 

Intelligent Supply Chain for the Aerospace and Defense Industry  

Lifecycle Optimization for Aerospace and Defense 

Meet the authors

Lydia Aldejohann

 Vice President – Intelligent Industry, Germany
Lydia Aldejohann brings over 25 years of leadership in Industry 4.0, specializing in digital transformation. As Intelligent Industry Lead Germany at Capgemini, she leverages her expertise to drive tangible results for clients. Together with an interdisciplinary team from Capgemini, she uses the potential that data and the latest technology offer to make products, processes, and services intelligent fostering new business models for the future.

Zoe Jackson

Vice President, Manufacturing and Aerospace and Defence Growth
Zoe is Vice President and Head of Manufacturing and Aerospace and Defence growth in the UK. Zoe has a particular focus on understanding the challenges of Aerospace and Defence organisations and helping them to develop and deliver organisational, process and technology solutions to improve their business performance.