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GE Aviation struggling to fill job openings

Workers at GE Aviation in Bohemia, on April

Workers at GE Aviation in Bohemia, on April 23. The unit is trying to fill about 25 manufacturing jobs "as soon as humanly possible," but faces a shortage of candidates, officials say. Credit: Danielle Silverman

A GE Aviation unit and other Long Island aerospace and defense companies are struggling to fill manufacturing job openings as the region's unemployment rate plummets to 20-year lows.

Mandeep Sahota, executive site leader at GE Aviation's 95,000-square-foot Bohemia facility, which makes power-conversion systems used in Patriot missiles and other aerospace systems, said the plant is seeking to add about 25 new employees "as soon as humanly possible."

But the company, with 260 employees, has been unable to fill its assembly and soldering positions, which pay from $18 to $20 per hour.

Robert Botticelli, chairman of ADDAPT, which promotes Long Island's aerospace manufacturers, said GE Aviation is not alone.

"Most every company is seeking employees for many positions," he said. "Clearly, industry is getting very busy."

Long Island's jobless rate in April fell to 3 percent, the lowest rate for that month in 20 years, according to the state Labor Department, and the manufacturing sector — including aerospace and defense — added 1,600 jobs that month.

In its quest for job candidates, Sahota said the company has been trying to connect to the community and partner with local schools.

The aviation unit of Boston-based General Electric posted revenue of $8 billion for the quarter ended March 31, compared to $7.1 billion in the 2018 quarter.

In October 2009, then-Gov. David A. Paterson announced a $10 million, 10-year incentive package brokered by Empire State Development to keep 255 GE Aviation jobs at the Bohemia location.

With that agreement set to expire in 2020, Sahota said the company is hoping for another state incentive package.

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