Northrop Grumman is creating pathways to success for a population that may otherwise have limited access to career opportunities. Through its program with Antelope Valley College, Goodwill Industries, and the City of Palmdale, Northrop Grumman is providing training and job opportunities to an underserved population, while also displaying a model example of collaboration and partnership in a growing industry.
To address a significant number of retirees and also prepare for new program needs, Northrop Grumman is working with Goodwill to recruit potential employees, and providing training through a curriculum established with Antelope Valley College. Northrop Grumman anticipates a ramp in hiring needs needing over the next year and for several years after at its aircraft Integration operations in Palmdale, building new airplanes and high-tech airframes, that will require aircraft mechanics.
Students can enroll in an 8-week accelerated program or a 16-week standard semester program. Each option provides hands-on training in a lab equipped by Northrop Grumman, held at an aircraft terminal at the Palmdale Airport
provided by the City of Palmdale or the Lancaster Antelope Valley College campus. Each student learns with a toolkit and materials valued at approximately $1,000 per student. The program is very stringent, with students not allowed to miss more than one day of instruction. They earn 22 college units after completing the program, which are also transferable to universities. Through a contract with LA County, Goodwill pays for tuition.
Program graduates are able to interview with Northrop Grumman, other local aerospace contractors, and companies hiring for this specific skillset, such as electric bus manufacturing. Due to the stringent nature of the program graduates are highly sought-after candidates. Those that are hired by Northrop Grumman have the benefit of enjoying company benefits on their first day of employment, including a tuition reimbursement program of $15,000 per year – providing the foundation for continued education.
Northrop Grumman has hired over 1,000 people since the program launched in 2005 – with a significant number of women hired. Over 300 program participants were hired in 2017 alone. The program touts a 90% completion rate, a 92% placement rate, and less than 1% attrition rate. As part of the Northrop Grumman training process for technicians, each Northrop Grumman new hire is mentored for about 12 months by a senior mechanic, ensuring employee success and a stable workforce for Northrop Grumman.
Orville Dothage is a Manufacturing Manager for Northrop Grumman. With the high costs associated with on-the-job training, he partnered with Antelope Valley College to support this program to provide an opportunity to hire a trained workforce, as well as provide underserved populations – such as military veterans – with access to not only a job, but a career.
“I would highly encourage companies to work with their local community college and local government. This program shows how a community can work together to fulfill a private-sector need while providing veterans, people with disabilities and the unemployed with an opportunity to enter into the aerospace industry with the potential of a long-term career ahead of them,” said Dothage.
The Southern California aerospace industry generates 268,100 jobs, and makes up 14% of U.S. industry jobs. The region’s aerospace industry overall maintains its competitive edge with an employment location quotient (LQ) of 2.1, and providing some of the highest paid jobs in the area. Collaborations like this between Northrop Grumman, Goodwill Industries, Antelope Valley College and the City of Palmdale contribute to a strong and solid future for the aerospace industry in the Los Angeles County region.