Remote work broadens the talent pool available to employers, but also widens demand for those same employees, said Peerless President Andrea Kunk, speaking at the Dayton Business Journal’s 2021 Aerospace and Defense Forum.

“Finding those specialized employees with a clearance has been a challenge,” Kunk said. “Remote work opened it up, but also increased competition.”

Kunk was part of a wide-ranging panel discussion that included local defense, legal and workforce leaders. Panelists included Lisa Coker, CEO of Infinite Management Solutions; Jeff Hoagland, president and CEO of the Dayton Development Coalition; Bob Sherwood, director of aerospace and cyberspace technologies at Ball Aerospace; and Suzanne Sumner, partner at Taft Law.

Timothy Sakulich, executive director of the Air Force Research Laboratory, was the keynote speaker.

Kunk noted that while finding cleared employees in specialized fields can be challenging, the greater Dayton area is well-positioned for growth in STEM fields, with local universities producing thousands of graduates in STEM fields each year. With tens of thousands of local jobs related to work at Wright Patterson AFB, defense companies should also reach out to graduates in other fields as well.

“We can help visualize a path in the defense industry not just as a job, but a career in defense,” Kunk said.