Boeing to hire 800 direct employees in India over next two years

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Bengaluru: American plane maker Boeing Co. is looking at hiring around 800 direct employees in India over the next two years, with a view to tap further into the country’s booming aerospace industry.

Boeing plans to take new people on board for job functions ranging from core engineering to frontline factory workers, and also support functions such as human resources, top company executives said.

The company currently has 1,200 direct employees and 7,000 of those who work on its projects at its partner firms in India. While Boeing’s India operations will likely have 1,500 direct employees by the end of this year, the company also expects its partner firms to increase the number of people working on its projects.

“We have 144,000 employees worldwide approximately. The population here has grown very quickly and we have aspirations to add more beyond that (1,500 by year-end),” Heidi Capozzi, Boeing’s senior vice-president for human resources globally, said in an interview.

India’s booming aerospace industry represents a major opportunity for international firms operating in the space. The country is set to become the third-largest aviation market by 2025, a year earlier than expected, according to a report by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) published in October.

By 2036, India will have about 478 million air passengers, more than that of Japan (just under 225 million) and Germany (just over 200 million) combined, the IATA report added.

“We’ve set aspirations to have 25% of our footprint outside the US. We’ve focused on key target markets and obviously India is a big one of those,” Capozzi said.

To that effect, the company already has two consortia with the National Centre for Aerospace Innovation and Research with Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay and Aerospace Network Research Consortium with the Indian Institute of Science-Bangalore to help it with its hiring roadmap.

There has been no dearth of good talent for Boeing in India, with Bengaluru alone being home to around 10,000 aerospace engineers, according to the company. And since the aerospace industry is growing rapidly, nearly every single state wants to develop that market, Boeing’s India vice-president Pratyush Kumar said.

“At the end of the day, you need an ecosystem. Bengaluru has a significant advantage. We evaluate very closely where to put a new engineering centre (for instance) and there was very tough competition, and frankly a lot of incentives, from other states to go there. But the talent is here (in Bengaluru),” Kumar added.

While India is a priority market for the aerospace industry globally, it is still at a nascent stage when it comes to manufacturing, since the country’s expertise lies more in automobiles. The aerospace industry is a zero-defect manufacturing space. The leap from world-class automotive manufacturing has been made by some suppliers selectively, according to Kumar.

But there’s a lot more room to grow, and Boeing will play a role in helping the market evolve in terms of training graduates. “Things like aircraft maintenance engineers— there are a lot of people graduating but not enough (who are) trained. The government of India has asked us to create a finishing school—not for us, for our customers. We are building that right now and it should come online in the first quarter next year,” Kumar said.

This is not too different, though, from the global norm because it is natural for graduates to need training before they enter the workspace, Capozzi added.

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