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Direct Sourcing: A Cost-Effective Solution for Aviation, Aerospace and Defence

Access to talent
Direct Sourcing
CXC Global7 min read
CXC GlobalJune 12, 2024
CXC Global

Companies in aviation, aerospace and defence face unique challenges when it comes to sourcing and attracting talent. In this article, we’ll discuss how direct sourcing could be the cost-effective solution businesses in this industry need to build their workforces and continue to drive growth into the future.  

Unique challenges in aviation, aerospace and defence 

The aviation, aerospace and defence industry is constantly evolving. And with this evolution comes the need to source niche, specialised talent — which is increasingly hard to come by. 

As well as significant skill shortages, companies in this industry are up against changing employee expectations and workforce dynamics. And difficult locations and the need to meet strict security requirements don’t make things any easier.

Faced with these challenges, many companies turn to outsourcing solutions and end up relying on a patchwork of agencies and providers to fulfil their requirements. But this leads to inefficient spending, inconsistent processes, and a total lack of visibility over the contingent workforce. 

Often, this chaotic setup results in poor candidate and employee experience too. According to a 2022 pulse survey by PwC, employees in aerospace and defence are the least likely to recommend their employer as a place to work compared to other industries. 

There’s also evidence that the staffing situation in this tricky industry is about to get much worse: according to one report, over 29% of employees in this space are over 55. The next few years will see a surge in retirements, leaving a gap of 3.5 million workers by 2026.

All of this means that companies in aviation, aerospace and defence need to act now to ensure they have the staff needed to meet their needs. Thankfully, there is a way to ensure full pipelines, even against the backdrop of these challenging conditions: direct sourcing. 

What is direct sourcing? 

In its simplest form, direct sourcing is when an organisation uses its own brand to source and attract contingent talent. It’s an alternative to relying on expensive staffing agencies, which means it can deliver significant cost savings to an organisation. 

Direct sourcing usually involves building pools of pre-qualified talent that you can tap into when you have an opening. The core idea behind it is to treat each candidate as a customer by finding ways to deliver value to the workers in your talent pool, even when they’re not working for you. 

By leveraging technology to automate repeatable communications and manage your candidate network, you can deliver an exceptional candidate experience with minimal cost.

Crucially, just because direct sourcing is about leveraging your own brand, that doesn’t mean you have to do it on your own. An experienced partner like CXC can help you to identify, attract and engage top talent through direct sourcing — even in a niche industry like aviation, aerospace and defence.

5 benefits of direct sourcing for companies in the aviation, aerospace and defence industry

If you’re struggling to meet your talent demands, direct sourcing could be the answer. Here are five of the top benefits it could bring to your business: 

  1. Access to niche talent 

Most obviously, direct sourcing allows you to access niche or highly specialised talent. When you work with a direct sourcing partner like CXC, you’ll be allocated a dedicated account management team made up of SMEs with knowledge of your industry. They’ll also work with you to fully define and qualify each role to ensure they fully understand your requirements.

Direct sourcing providers can also give you up-to-date insights and analysis of the market you’re operating in. This can help you to develop the right strategies for attracting talent — even for hard-to-fill roles. 

To give you an example of what that could look like, we’ve recently sourced the following roles for an aerospace client through our direct sourcing solution: 

  • CH47 Chinook Mechanic Technician
  • CH47 Chinook Avionics Technician
  • E7 Cabinets Mechanic Technician
  • E7 Systems Safety Engineer
  • Apache D IOS Avionic / Electrical FSR
  • Structures Mechanic

These roles require a very specific set of skills and requirements, and can be hard to source on your own. Working with a direct sourcing partner like CXC is an effective way to access the niche talent you need.  

  1. Enhanced candidate experience 

When you rely on external agencies to source candidates for your contingent roles, you have no control over how your brand is presented. And a bad experience with an agency can reflect badly on your company. 

But handling everything in-house may not be the answer either — especially if you don’t have the right resources in place. Inefficient, inconsistent and decentralised processes can lead to a candidate experience that’s nothing short of chaotic. 

A direct sourcing solution allows you to retain control over your brand while working with a partner that knows how to present it positively and authentically. It can also help you to standardise processes and streamline communications, making for a much better experience for candidates. 

Want to understand what that looks like in practice? Check out these recent case studies to find out how we’ve helped real companies in aviation, aerospace and defence to meet their workforce needs through direct sourcing: 

  1. Streamlined processes and greater visibility 

When businesses are struggling to identify and attract talent, they often turn to external agencies to fill the gap. This often leads to messy, inconsistent processes and limited visibility over your workforce. Inevitably, it also means spiralling costs as hiring managers make ad-hoc payments to cover their needs, with no specific strategy guiding their decisions. 

When you work with an experienced direct sourcing partner like CXC, you’ll be able to control tail spend by creating one consistent process for sourcing workers. This makes for a smoother experience for everyone involved, from candidates to hiring managers. It also gives you greater visibility over your workforce, allowing you to spot patterns, problems and opportunities.

  1. Ensured compliance and security 

In the aviation, aerospace and defence sectors, compliance with industry regulations and standards is crucial. But if you’re sourcing workers from multiple different providers with no coherent strategy in place, this can be difficult to manage in-house. 

Many direct sourcing providers provide compliance support as part of their service. At CXC, for example, we perform the necessary background, right-to-work and worker classification checks on every worker we source for our clients. We can also assist you in ensuring each worker meets the required security clearance for their role. 

Because we have consistent and streamlined processes in place for managing those checks, we can get your workers engaged and onboarded much more quickly — saving you time and money.

  1. Reduced workforce costs 

Direct sourcing allows you to cut out the various middlemen that are involved in sourcing contingent workers. It also standardises and streamlines processes, resulting in greater efficiency and reduced tail spend. 

Over time, a direct sourcing solution can save your organisation a significant amount of money, time and resources compared to the traditional agency model. Plus, the compliance support offered by providers like CXC can lead to indirect savings by helping you to  avoid unnecessary fines and legal fees. 

Case study: Helping the world’s largest aerospace company  to meet its contingent talent needs through direct sourcing 

In 2022, we were approached by the world’s largest aerospace company for help with:

  • Identifying talent for niche roles 
  • Delivering a top-quality candidate experience
  • Reducing contingent workforce costs

We deployed a dedicated talent sourcing team made up of SMEs in aerospace industry recruiting. Our team undertook a detailed qualification of each role to make sure they fully understood the requirements before sourcing. They also provided up-to-date market analysis of rates and candidate skills, to help our client understand the external situation. 

Since 2022, CXC has become the top provider of contingent talent for this client, overseeing the successful recruitment of 100+ skilled workers across the EMEA region. We also provide a comprehensive compliance process to ensure standards are met, and manage payroll for all workers sourced through our programme. 

Our efforts have streamlined the onboarding and background check process, making for a smoother candidate experience. Through our solution, our client has achieved a total saving of £100,000 in comparison to the inflated margins of its competition during 2023 alone. 

Building a business case for direct sourcing 

If you want to implement a direct sourcing solution at your organisation, you’ll need to get your company leadership on board. For more insights on building a business case for direct sourcing, you can check out our webinar on the subject or download our free guide

For now, here’s a quick overview of the steps you’ll need to take: 

  1. Identify your current challenges: Determine what you need to achieve through direct sourcing. For example, you may need to lower your time-to-hire, access niche skills or decrease your workforce costs. 
  2. Propose direct sourcing as a solution: Create an overview of how direct sourcing will help you to achieve your objectives. 
  3. Determine the recommended approach: Go into more detail on exactly what the solution will look like, and how it will complement, enhance and replace your existing workforce solutions. 
  4. Identify relevant stakeholders: Determine who will need to be involved in your direct sourcing solution and what will be required of them. This might include leadership, HR, talent acquisition, procurement, marketing, legal, IT and hiring managers. 
  5. Pinpoint critical success factors: Determine what elements you will need for your direct sourcing solution to succeed. For example, you will need the right branding and technology, and effective strategies for sourcing candidates. 
  6. Create a value proposition: Outline the value that direct sourcing will bring to different parts of your business, including cost reductions, better quality of hire, risk mitigation and growth enablement. 

Learn more 

At CXC, we understand the unique challenges faced by companies in the aviation, aerospace and defence industries. And we have the specialised knowledge, expertise and experience to help you overcome them. 

Our direct sourcing solution can give you access to top-quality contingent talent, wherever you are in the world. We’re experienced in identifying and attracting talent with the niche skills you need to meet your goals — all while reducing your workforce costs. Want to learn more about how we could help you? Speak to our team to get started.


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About CXC


At CXC, we want to help you grow your business with flexible, contingent talent. But we also understand that managing a contingent workforce can be complicated, costly and time-consuming. Through our MSP solution, we can help you to fulfil all of your contingent hiring needs, including temp employees, independent contractors and SOW workers. And if your needs change? No problem. Our flexible solution is designed to scale up and down to match our clients’ requirements.

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