A culture of learning

Candice Smith, Director of Global Engineering

A better-developed Boeing workforce leads to many benefits for the company, its customers – and society

To compete, win and deliver aerospace innovation over the next 100 years, Boeing will rely on and be driven by a diverse, multi-skilled technical workforce that has a truly global mindset and can rapidly adapt to meet operational needs.

But how can we ready this diverse talent pipeline quickly and more effectively? The answer is to move beyond traditional models of educating and training generations of technical thinkers and doers. Championing advanced learning approaches and methods will take full advantage of our world-class technical community, achieve our STEM goals with the future workforce, and drive longterm business success. Training and development needs to:

  • Accelerate and be individualized for each learner.
  • Be responsive to emergent needs.
  • Be collaborative via a social component.
  • Take advantage of new platforms such as online courses, hackathons, tech-based competitions and innovation challenges.
  • Offer continuous improvement of teaching techniques in response to research on how people learn.
  • Deliver “just-in-time” development and training capabilities to arm people with actionable knowledge when they need it.

A traditional education model of facts and formulas is significant to understanding the foundational principles of science, engineering and problem-solving; however, proof of applying these principles to solve real problems or learning how to approach a solution is increasingly more important.

Building a strong and diverse early-career pipeline requires that students are better prepared to join our ranks. They do so as we evolve to accelerate innovation much earlier in the life cycle of our products and services.

That’s why it’s important for Boeing to partner with educational institutions and external technical affiliates to share the capabilities and skills we expect our workforce to possess. We also have an opportunity to develop organic learning opportunities with our internal experts.

As we invite students to join us as interns, we must offer them a chance to complement their experience based learning with advanced learning opportunities that broaden their perspective. Encouraging them to get involved with experienced colleagues increases their pace of learning and confidence in applying learning to their projects, and promotes a culture of innovation early on.

Just as importantly, these advanced learning principles and approaches provide our current workforce opportunities to learn and apply new skills quickly, enabling those in midcareer to take full advantage of their experience and enterprise knowledge.

This will also be a great advantage for our business, as we will be able to train and deploy skilled workers to target emergent functional and technical needs.

Those who are nearing retirement or are later in their careers should also be key contributors to our advanced learning strategy, as rapid and responsive training techniques can help connect just-in-time knowledge with hands-on learning. With advanced methods, our most experienced talent will have more effective ways to teach others in their accumulated expertise.

With the right strategy, culture, tools and tactics, we can bolster the skills of our global workforce, helping them more rapidly develop and apply new skills. We will learn quickly from successful and unsuccessful outcomes, then apply those lessons to produce the best quality, most valuable products and services.

By Candice Smith, Director of Global Engineering