The military sector is booming, with industry heavyweights like Leonardo and Thales seeking to fill tens of thousands of positions. Companies like Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics in the US are also keen on hiring.

Global Defense Sector Sees Hiring Boom
European defence companies hiring figure in 2024 (Source: Financial Times)

Defense contractors throughout the world are going on a recruiting binge to satisfy the needs of record-breaking order books, in an unprecedented surge reminiscent of the mobilization that followed the Cold War. U.S. and European business behemoths are advertising tens of thousands of open positions, indicating a prosperous time for the military industry.

Three of the biggest U.S. contractors—Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics—are among those having thousands of job opportunities, according to a recent survey by the Financial Times. A group of ten businesses that participated in the poll are planning to hire 37,000 more people, an increase of roughly 10% from their current workforce.

An surge in global military expenditure, precipitated by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and rising geopolitical tensions, is said to be the driving force behind the industry's recent boom. Demand for digital skill sets, a competitive labor market, and continuing personnel shortages from the COVID-19 period are all factors propelling the military industry to ramp up employment.

Engineering, software development, cyber security analysis, welding, and mechanics are in great demand, and the job opportunities span from apprenticeships to executive positions. Recruiting is heating up at Italian military giant Leonardo, which aims to increase its workforce by 6,000 by year's end 2024 and by as many as 10,000 between 2025 and 2028.

Conflict isn't the only factor fueling the hiring boom; rivalry with IT firms and consulting firms is also a factor. As are trends such as "quiet quitting" and the quest for a work-life balance.

Rheinmetall and Nammo, two ammunition makers, are actively recruiting to restock government stockpiles. Nammo expects to double its size by 2030 and has expanded its employment by 15% since 2021. Talent from other industries, such as the automotive industry, is also being used by Rheinmetall.

French firm Thales and British firm BAE Systems have increased their hiring efforts to complete military contracts with a longer time horizon. BAE has recruited hundreds of seasoned experts and increased its intake of early-career workers by 100% in only five years.

A shortage of qualified workers has hit the nuclear defense industry especially hard. In response to this dearth, nuclear skills schools have been set up by corporations such as Babcock International and Rolls-Royce. Civilian and military personnel in the United Kingdom are to be trained by a nuclear skills task force.

Colleges and businesses are working together to create new curriculum that meets the demands of the business world. To better equip students for the ever-changing needs of military professions, Cranfield University has introduced new degrees in digital forensics and other areas.

Source: Financial Times

Still, obstacles remain, as many jobs have security clearances, which aren't always easy to get. To find enough competent people to fill all the open positions in this dynamic and fast developing sector, businesses may have to broaden their search abroad.

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