RENTON, Wash. -- Boeing says 25 percent of its current work force is eligible to retire. That doesn't mean they will, but it's something that the company keeps in mind as it continues to try and recruit younger people to consider careers in science and math.
Michael Greenwood, Boeing's senior manager for workforce management and training, says that number could grow to 50 percent in another five to seven years if the current trend continues. Right now, he says about two percent of the workforce retires every year.
He's working with many of the state's community colleges and four-year universities to get their graduates with degrees in engineering, as well as aircraft and power plant mechanics to consider Boeing for a career.
On Thursday, the company held its annual Job Shadow Day. More than 100 selected high school sophomores, juniors and seniors took tours of Boeing's Renton plant. They learned about everything from how a 737 is put together on a moving assembly line, to how jet engines work, to hearing about how Boeing's security and bomb detection canine units protect the company. All those are areas where Boeing hopes to inspire potential careers.
It's not just a problem for Boeing. Earlier this week, the Washington Roundtable, a state wide business group of which Boeing is a member, released a report that found 25,000 jobs in high tech are currently unfilled -- having been open for three to six months.
Roundtable president Steve Mullin says there's a "pipeline problem" where colleges and universities in Washington are not providing enough slots in areas like engineering, and therefore not producing enough graduates. But the group argues that there needs to be a greater emphasis in so-called STEM subjects - science, technology, engineering and math - even in the lower grades.