from 15 to 35 percent in the near term. NASA should pay attention and should nurture relationships and alliances with local and regional universities and with national student and professional organizations that are championing diversity opportunities nationwide.17 The goal of the agency should be to ensure that, at the least, its recruiting reflects the trends in degree production for minority groups in the relevant disciplines, and at best exceeds them.

CONCLUSIONS

The committee drew several general conclusions from the data and perspectives summarized above:

  1. Although there are currently some problems in meeting demand, particularly demand for workers with specific skills, the situation for major employers such as the DOD and the large aerospace companies is not now a major problem, based on evidence supplied by various industry and DOD experts at the committee’s meetings.

  2. Data on employment demand are difficult to obtain, particularly categorized by relevant skill areas, and those data and projections that exist are often ambiguous beyond the near term.

  3. Most longer-term projections do forecast a gap between supply and demand that is larger than today’s, but the size and the scope of the predicted gap are not clear.18

  4. The problems with meeting future demand in the DOD are influenced by the need to employ principally U.S. citizens and permanent residents who can obtain security clearances.

  5. In areas controlled by International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), NASA’s workforce pool will be constrained.

  6. NASA’s employee age distribution is different from those of DOD and industry, both of which tend to be either bimodal or relatively flatter with age and thus more nearly like the age distribution of the U.S. workforce as a whole. The most important issue is the demographic trend at NASA whereby policy choices made during the last decade and a half have resulted in a steadily increasing average age of the agency’s employees and fewer and fewer entry-level personnel capable of rising up through the agency’s ranks to assume leadership positions in the future.

  7. Skills are to some extent transferable, as demonstrated by the large numbers of engineers working in areas that they were not originally educated in—for instance, electrical engineers working in aerospace.

17

Such societies include the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE).

18

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not forecast a shortage of aerospace engineers: its forecasts are for a supply that meets the market’s requirements for workers. By contrast, industry forecasts are generally more pessimistic about the supply of engineers being adequate.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement