After cutting over 21,000 jobs in the last five years, Boeing is hiring again.

Boeing employment at the end of November 2017 stood at 65,830 in Washington state. That's down from 87,023 at the end of September 2012. Much of that drop came as the company tried to manage costs and create efficiencies in its dogfights with Airbus over new jet orders from airlines.

Job numbers have shrunk, even as the company has seen overall record orders and deliveries. It's super busy for the Renton-made 737 and the Everett-built 787. But the famed 747 assembly line has slowed to a crawl, and the 777 had slowed as the company readies the new 777X replacement, which is about to accelerate.

Most of those job cuts have come through a voluntary layoff program, others as parts of the company have reorganized to locations out of state.

Now Boeing is hiring again -- an uptick over the next several months described by a company spokesman as several hundred. While that could drive the numbers back up above 66,000, the hiring needs are very much about replacing people eligible to retire, especially on the factory floor. Boeing says half of its workforce would be eligible to retire over the next five years.

In Washington, Boeing is part of a much broader industry, including a network of more than 1,300 companies ranging from large to tiny, providing Boeing and other aerospace companies, even Airbus, and militaries with parts and services. Even as Boeing slowed down directly, many of these companies kept hiring.

That's where educators come in. The state's high schools and colleges have ramped up programs to provide the skills that Boeing and its suppliers are looking for.