Boeing job openings primarily for defense

This just in — the Boeing Co. is hiring again.

But it’s not hiring many commercial jet builders. The overwhelming majority of the jobs Boeing has are for defense programs in Southern California and Missouri.

Boeing has only a handful of openings to fill in the Puget Sound region, but any Boeing hiring at all comes as a shock to job-placement professionals who have spent the past 30 months watching the company hand out layoff notices here.

"It’s just flabbergasting," said Jan Scudder, an account executive with WorkSource in Everett.

As of Monday afternoon, Boeing had openings for 871 workers worldwide, according to a job listing on the company’s external Web site. Of those, 75 were in the Puget Sound area.

More than a third of the area jobs were with Boeing’s Integrated Defense Systems division in Kent, where the company bases its Defense &Space Group that works on Airborne Warning and Control Systems planes.

A similar number of openings are in Renton, where Boeing is looking for accountants and sales and marketing analysts.

There was only one opening, posted last week, for an Everett job. Boeing wants an engineer to work on flight controls.

Boeing anticipates hiring up to 6,000 people this year for its defense programs and to fill research and development jobs in its Phantom Works division, according to information in the company’s in-house magazine, Frontiers.

One of the biggest challenges has been fighting what the magazine calls the "strong public perception" that Boeing is still in "layoff mode." (The fact that Boeing still is laying people off probably adds to that perception.)

Locally, there has been a bit of good news for jobless jet builders, Scudder said.

"I’m seeing a gradual pickup in aerospace," she said. "We’ve had a few."

Several contractors have been hiring, Scudder said, and companies have been coming to WorkSource to find workers they expect to add later. Companies with defense connections also are adding staff. Most of the hiring has been for engineers and technical workers, Scudder said.

The volume is small, with most companies hiring two or three people at a time, she said.

But "it’s more than I’ve seen since we went though 9-11," she added. "We are really busy over here. It seems like all we get to do is put in job orders, which is good.

"Something’s in the air," Scudder said. "Not just Boeing, but government and airlines."

It’s been more than two years since the first 10,000 workers left Boeing, and their benefits are long gone. It makes me wonder — did the layoff programs work?

If you were laid off from Boeing between December 2001 and March 2002, I’d like to know what happened to you. Did you find a new job? Did you get training for a new career? Are you still looking for work? Did you have to leave the area to find a job?

If you’re willing to be interviewed, and maybe even photographed, drop me an e-mail or contact me at the address or phone number below.

  • Elsewhere in the world, there’s been a lot of speculation about potential launch customers for the 7E7, with some of the most interesting scuttlebutt coming from Asia.

    According to Reuters, Singapore Airlines has asked Boeing for a specific proposal on the new jet, along with information on a potential purchase of 777s.

    Meanwhile, newspapers in Malaysia report that Malaysia Airlines has "an excellent opportunity" to be among the first to buy the 7E7, at least according to The Star, a national newspaper there .

    Boeing senior sales director Paul Dubeck said that Boeing and Malaysia Airlines are talking seriously.

    The 7E7 "is really suited for them, and indications are it will be part of the launch group," The Star reported.

    Meanwhile, The Business Times of Kuala Lampur said one of the issues is the size of the order. Malaysia Airlines has 20 A330s to replace, Dubeck told the paper.

    In addition, Reuters said All Nippon Airways, Lufthansa, Emirates and some Chinese carriers are also involved in talks, adding that "there’s enough of an interest that there’s a bit of a race going on."

    Reporter Bryan Corliss: 425-339-3454 or corliss@heraldnet.com.

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