Tuesday, February 09, 1999

Aging work force worries Wright-Pat

The Associated Press

        DAYTON, Ohio — The work force that develops planes and missiles for the Air Force is so dominated by older employees that an expected wave of retirements could threaten the nation's war readiness.

        The concern is that the Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near here is missing out on the skills of younger workers, and that they will arrive too late to be guided by the departing retirees.

        About 10,000 people, including 7,800 civilians, work at the aeronautical center, which has overseen development of the Stealth bomber and fighter; F-15, F-16 and F-22 fighters; and various missile systems.

        Four years from now, about half of the center's civilian work force will be eligible to retire, said Mike O'Hara, civilian-personnel officer for Wright-Patterson. Only 7.5 percent of the workers are under 35, while 35 percent are over 50. By 2003, fewer than 1 percent will be under 35 and more than 55 percent will be over 50.

        “The demographics going out into 2003 are a little bit frightening,” said Dan Curtis, vice president of the Miami Valley Economic Development Coalition.


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