The drone industry is in its infancy, which experts say makes now the right time to talk about workforce diversity.
Thomas Wilczek, the aerospace and defense industry representative for the state of Nevada, moderated a panel on the subject Friday, helping to close a three-day convention dedicated to commercial drones.
“Diversity is a competitive advantage,” said Las Vegas Assemblywoman Irene Bustamante Adamsto to a crowd of about 25 InterDrone attendees. “It’s an untapped business strategy, but the ones that figure it out go from being a local to a national, global-type of company.”
As the industry emerges, it’s important to think about the changing workforce that will fill future positions, she said.
On that same note, panelist Reggie Richardson, president of Las Vegas-based Sapphire Inovative Solutions Inc., said now is the time for drone companies to consider partnering with universities and other youth organizations to provide a pathway for students to become exposed to the types of jobs available in the industry.
“It comes down to awareness and exposure,” Richardson said. “People really don’t know what’s available.”
Jinger Zeng, co-founder and CEO of Las Vegas-based Dronesmith Technologies said she prides herself on having a multicultural team.
“Technology is agnostic to race,” she said. “Instead of like a forged diversity framework, and saying we have to have a percentage of these kinds of varieties (of diverse people), I think the conversation needs to be more around the content of diversity.”
Wilczek emphasized that this was the first panel of its kind at InterDrone.
“In my mind it shows that that we want to grow this industry in Nevada and we want to be inclusive for the cross section of America,” Wilczek told the Review-Journal. “The cross section of America is reflective of different cultures, different ethnicities and different races, and I want all those groups to understand you can have those opportunities to succeed in this business, and not only nationally but specifically here in the state.”