Pontifications: AFA holds aerospace job fair that WA state should have done

By Scott Hamilton

Jan. 7, 2019, © Leeham News: The first dedicated aerospace job fair in Washington State may draw more than 1,500 people today, says the president of the organizer, Aerospace Futures Alliance.

Kelly Maloney, AFA president, opened the fair day-long today citing 1,100 pre-opening registrations by job seekers. She told me later that another 500 walk-ins may show up.

Thirty-eight companies, ranging from the Seattle area’s giant, Boeing, to Tier 3 and Tier 4 suppliers, were present to receive the hopefuls, who ranged from new entrants into the job market to upper-middle aged people.

Solid turnout early

I dropped by the job fair right after the doors opened today at 9am. There was already a solid turnout beginning to fill the ShoWare Arena, a major junior ice hockey team, in Kent (WA).

It wasn’t long before a long line formed by hopefuls waiting to speak with Boeing, which faces thousands of retirements in each of its engineer and touch-labor work forces in the coming years.

But Boeing isn’t the only company looking for help.

The list of companies represented a broad spectrum across the aerospace industry in Washington. There was Boeing, of course. Safran, which is 50% owner in engine maker CFM and parent of Zodiac interiors (among other companies and components) was there.

Blue Origin, Mitsubishi Aircraft, Carlisle, Alaska Airlines, AIM Aerospace, Orion, Tool Gauge and Toray were among the other companies.

Types of jobs

Companies look to fill jobs across a broad spectrum of disciplines.

OMAX Corp., a Kent (WA) company that makes waterjets for machining, listed 14 titles at its table. Among them: lab specialist, customer service technician, customer service engine, machinists, quality assurance inspector, assemblers, even receiving clerk.

Toray, a major Boeing supplier and composites producer, is looking for entry level employees to skilled labor to engineers.

Filling a void

AFA’s job fair fills a void in Washington aerospace job fairs that has been inexplicable. Neither the state, though the Department of Commerce, nor colleges sponsored job fairs before now.

This is in stark contrast to Washington rivals South Carolina, Mississippi and Alabama, contrasts that I’ve written about in the past with scathing criticism of Washington for failing to do so.

When asked by the state hasn’t sponsored a job fair, AFA’s Maloney replied, “That’s a great question.”

If anyone should know, AFA should. This is the aerospace lobbying group that was launched in 2006 with Boeing funding, but which has grown to become a much broader representative of Washington’s aerospace supply chain. The first executive director was only interested in legislation lobbying. Maloney takes a much more expansive view.

When AFA announced this job fair, Maloney said “companies came out of the woodwork” to participate.

One company had 200 positions to fill when this job fair was announced. By year end, 100 slots had been filled, but 100 more remained coming into today.

Maloney said today’s job fair is about filling Washington’s needs “that are here and now” in aerospace.

“On top of this, there are needs in other industries.”

More job fairs likely

The advance registration, coupled with the anticipated walk-ins and the number of companies participating in this South King County event means AFA may well hold one or two more job fairs this year.

Maloney said AFA already has discussed holding a job fair in Everett (WA), where Boeing’s wide-body jetliners are assembled. Another location may be in the Spokane (WA) area, in the eastern part of the state. This is where the state’s second largest aerospace cluster is located.

It’s work Washington state should have been doing for decades.

3 Comments on “Pontifications: AFA holds aerospace job fair that WA state should have done

  1. While it was before my time, I recall that Ford built and entire vertically y (well horizontally) integrated plant at Rouge River plant all on their own dime and paid their workers the unheard of of $5 a day.

    Now wealthy corporations come with their hand out and their knee ready.

    Seems its well past time for companies to be weaned off welfare and put out on their own (I seem to recall that was one of the basis of capitalism, we don’t need the government telling us what to do with their citizens money ?)

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