RENTON, Wash. -- Boeing says 25 percent of its current work force is eligible to retire. That doesn't mean they will, but it's something that the company keeps in mind as it continues to try and recruit younger and younger people to consider careers in science and math.
That's important, as Michael Greenwood, Boeing's senior manager for workforce management and training, says that number could go to 50 percent in another five to seven years if the current trend continues. Right now he says about two percent of the workforce retires every year.
He's working with many of the state's community and four year colleges to graduate more young people ranging from aircraft and power plant mechanics to engineers and get them to consider Boeing for a career.
On Thursday, the company held its annual Job Shadow Day, with 104 selected high school sophomores, juniors and seniors getting tours of Boeing's Renton plant. They’re learning everything from how a 737 is put together on a moving assembly line, to how jet engines work to hearing about how Boeing's security and bomb detection canine units protect the company - all areas where Boeing hopes to inspire potential careers.
It's not just a problem for Boeing. Earlier this week the Washington Roundtable, a state wide business group of which Boeing is a member, released a report finding that 25,000 jobs in high tech are currently unfilled, and the Roundtable defines that as any job that remains open for three to six months.
Roundtable president Steve Mullin says there's a "pipeline problem" where colleges and universities in Washington are not providing enough slots in areas like engineering, and therefore not producing enough graduates. But the group argues that there needs to be a greater emphasis in so called STEM subjects - science, technology, engineering and math - even in the lower grades.