Military veterans and the aerospace industry in Kansas could be dual beneficiaries of a unique program that seeks to match highly-skilled, highly-disciplined former soldiers with good paying jobs in that state’s rapidly expanding aircraft building industry.
In an historic meeting of labor and business leaders, IP Tom Buffenbarger joined with Spirit AeroSystems CEO Jeff Turner, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, Ret. Maj. Gen. Matthew Caulfield and leaders of the state’s largest aerospace firms to unveil the Hire a Hero program in Wichita, KS, home to Spirit, Boeing, Raytheon, Cessna and Bombardier Aircraft.
“We believe the program we are launching today is truly the answer to the growing shortage of skilled workers in high tech manufacturing and aerospace jobs,” said Buffenbarger, who noted the presence of more than 3,000 aviation-related companies in Kansas and the expected surge in hiring over the next decade. More than 40 percent of the aerospace work force in Wichita alone is set to retire within the next four years.
The Hire a Hero program would evaluate and certify the skills returning soldiers acquired during military service and then steer them to aerospace-related jobs that frequently go unfilled for lack of qualified candidates. According to Spirit AeroSystems CEO Jeff Turner, Wichita aircraft firms will need to fill between 5,000 to 6,000 new jobs this year alone.
Kansas Gov. Sebelius signed a proclamation of support for the Hire a Hero program and pledged to immediately begin promoting the program in Wichita.