Air Force base facing dilemma of aging workforce

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio air base is facing the increasingly common dilemma of an aging workforce.
Around half of the 30,000 people who work at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton are nearing the
end of their careers, the Dayton Daily News reported .
Air Force Gen. Arnold Bunch Jr., commander of the Air Force Materiel Command, said during a recent forum
in Columbus that filling those jobs and taking care of employees is "critical."
"That’s one of my top priorities," Bunch said.
More than a third of employees at the Air Force Research Laboratory are eligible to retire, which could
prove a challenge. Nearly 70% of the lab’s workforce has at least a master’s degree. According to a U.S.
Census estimate from 2017, only 10% of Ohioans age 25 and older hold an advanced college degree.
The state is also expected to undergo a demographic shift that will lead to 13,000 fewer high school
graduates by the year 2032, according to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.
Jessica Salyers, the research lab’s deputy executive director, said those statistics are "keeping us
up at night."
The Air Force will need to do more than just working with colleges and universities to find potential
candidates, said Cassie Barlow, president of the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education.
She said the Air Force should focus on attracting and recruiting nontraditional candidates in unique
ways.
"With our current unemployment rate and our demographic challenges right now, it’s really time for
companies to think outside the box in terms of attraction and retention and recruitment," said
Barlow, a former commander at Wright-Patterson.
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Information from: Dayton Daily News, http://www.daytondailynews.com