U.S. and European weapons manufacturing companies are struggling to hire enough staff to keep up with the demand surge amid the war in Ukraine, The Wall Street Journal reported.
While hiring has reportedly gotten better in the past few months, the majority of defense companies in the U.S. failed to reach recruitment goals last year and some industry employees permanently left following COVID-19 furloughs, according to the outlet. European weapons producers have stepped up hiring efforts in response to military spending hikes by countries in the region as Russia-related fears abound, and members of the U.K.-based aerospace, security, defense and space trade organization the ADS Group faced 10,000 empty positions at the close of 2023, its chief economist Aimie Stone said.
“Defense companies are worried at the moment about recruitment,” Stone said, according to the WSJ. BAE Systems, the biggest European defense firm, wants to bring on thousands of new employees, while MBDA Missile Systems is seeking to grow its staff by more than 15% and Lockheed Martin hopes to add 200 workers to its Camden, Arkansas factory.
Mane Contract Services consultant Kieran Slaughter in the U.K. said car and airplane producers generally offer higher pay than weapons manufacturers without posing identical security clearance hurdles, the WSJ reported. He argued some potential hires “don’t want to wait around” for the usual weeks or months to get clearance.
Recruitment issues come as weapons firms face increasing costs and supply problems for parts like chips and rocket motors. The defense electric systems producer French Thales SA, which hopes to make 12,000 hires in 2023, also plans to expand its foreign engineering facilities and increasingly lean on business partnerships with other firms in response to “tensions on some labor markets,” CEO Patrice Caine said, according to the WSJ.
“Our first priority is really to ramp up capacity, which, of course, means increasing staff,” Caine told the outlet.
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