Boeing employs 85,000 employees in the state and created 12,000 jobs here over the past 18 months. These are family wage jobs in engineering and manufacturing with good benefits. Boeing also contracts with 2,000 aerospace partners in the state and paid them 4.3 billion last year. So what's the problem?
The problem, according to Brett Gerry, vice president and assistant general counsel for Boeing Commercial Airplanes who spoke at AWB's Policy Summit Wednesday, stems from increased competition and the need for a skilled workforce.
"Over the next 20 years, demand for jets is expected to outstrip the gross domestic product and could mean 30,000 new airplanes entering service," said Gerry.
With advances in airplanes like the 787, which boasts lighter composite materials making it 20 percent more fuel efficient than previous models, it's easy to see this demand in the future. Other companies, aside from Boeing and Airbus, have been entering the marketplace making it more crucial for Boeing to meet the challenge in the marketplace.
Many of Boeing's engineers and machinists will also be eligible for retirement in the next five years. Gerry says Washington must be ready to fill this demand and needs to provide a strong pipeline of skilled workers prepared for aerospace. This can be done by providing outcome-based reforms in K-12 education and improving the performance of the state’s higher education system in producing quality engingeers.
In order for Boeing to continue providing good paying jobs for families in Washington, the state must be prepared to invest in education and provide an environment where even more aerospace jobs can be created in the state.
"Everything feels good now but we need to take advantage of the expanding marketplace," said Gerry. "We're a company worth fighting for."