• Article
  • 25 Jun 2024
Pete BurdenPhoto
Pete Burden

Addressing the Future of Skills Gaps by Filling Niche Roles

Addressing The Future Skills Gap + Listing Image

Recently, we’ve been writing a series on the current state of skills gaps in the aerospace and defence industry. To recap, they’re noticeable, focus primarily on emerging technologies, and could have a significant economic impact in the long term.


What do we do about these skills gaps? How do we fill niche roles, and is it easy? What strategies do we have to overcome relevant challenges both now and in the future? We’ll aim to answer these questions below.

Is Filling Niche Roles Easy?

Many of the skills gaps currently faced by the industry boil down to niche roles. For example, having a shortage in AI skills is one thing, but it’s more relevant to consider them as applied AI skills shortages. For example, the role of AI in aviation design, or its use in autonomous aircraft systems.

After all, there’s no one way to “know” AI – our knowledge depends on how we plan to use it and on previous innovations in the industry. This is just one example, of course, but highlights the ever-growing importance of niche roles in aerospace and defence.

So, is it easy to fill these roles? The short answer is no, but it is possible. Hiring niche talent often involves thinking outside the box and deciding what is the most relevant hard skill for the desired role. Often, this isn’t always the first obvious thing.

How Do We Hire for Niche Roles?

Take KDC Resource’s approach to the problem. We utilise various methods, including embedding recruitment and recruitment outsourcing. Importantly, too, our recruitment specialists have key industry knowledge that allows them to understand the role in greater detail than another recruiter might.

Let’s say we needed to hire an autonomous systems engineer for a civil aviation company that’s designing self-piloting aircraft. What is the most relevant skillset here? Aviation engineering or autonomous systems? Arguably the latter, as this is the main focus of the role. Here, the company is looking for someone who can apply autonomous systems engineering to an aerospace context.

Where would we search for potential candidates, then? We could look to the automotive sector, the space industry, robotics specialists, or elsewhere depending on the specific qualities needed. We could use the same process for any number of niche roles, provided skills exist elsewhere that can be applied to the relevant context.

What Does This Mean for Skills Gaps?

Overcoming skills gaps is one of the most important obstacles faced by the industry. Thinking outside of the box is one option, particularly for filling niche roles that have applicable skills from other sectors. Looking at hiring as applied skillsets is a necessary cognitive shift that recruiters must make to better serve their clients, and the industry as a whole.

But there are other methods for overcoming these obstacles. We can’t ignore the connection between education and emerging skills, or the vital pathways established between educational institutions and companies. Apprenticeships are a perfect example, but they’re just as important with universities.

The bottom line is that there’s no one way to address skills shortages. KDC Resource’s method looks to the short term, particularly for agile companies looking to move quickly. However, long-term solutions are just as important to ensure the next generation of aerospace and defence employees are empowered to continue the innovation that makes our industry great.