coronavirus job benefits

Amidst high unemployment, drone industry is hiring — and promises coronavirus job benefits

Skyfish, which makes on-board computing, navigation and open sensor platforms for commercial drones, is opening a manufacturing center in Stevensville, Montana at the beginning of October. And given the new, 7,000-square-foot facility, Skyfish is looking to hire, now. A big part of their pitch to come work for them: a slew of coronavirus job benefits.

“It’s a great place to live in the country…almost no COVID instances,” said John Livingston, an entrepreneur and investor in Skyfish, in an email to The Drone Girl pitching his company.

It could be a tantalizing offer for drone industry workers looking to escape from major cities. A number of (albeit debated) studies have suggested that tech workers are fleeing hotspots like Silicon Valley in favor of life in more rural areas due to factors like sky-high rent prices and rough commutes. And with many of the main appeals of urban life like theaters, restaurants and museums closed, employees are finding it tempting to leave.

For Skyfish, the company is pitching its job openings as an outlet for skilled tech workers who want to leave urban life in favor of a more rural setting. The company is hiring for high-level tech job titles including Director of Drone Manufacturing and Quality Assurance and Electrical Engineer — and Livingston said that salaries, despite being located in a more rural area, “will be market competitive” including stock options and participation in a profit-sharing program.

Skyfish CEO Dr. Orest Pilskalns also said he estimates the company will hire an additional 15 full time employees and double the size of Skyfish to 30 employees during 2021.

Livingston went on to pitch the benefits of life in Stevensville, citing “beautiful winters and warm summers, cheap housing and nice community, and great schools.” Though, Stevensville itself has had a controversial response to coronavirus, such as the Stevensville School District not requiring returning students to wear face masks to protect against coronavirus despite strong feelings from the community on both sides of the issue and protests over remote city council meetings.

Don’t want to live in Montana? Some drone companies are promising that employees can live anywhere. DroneDeploy, has a slew of job openings — and all of them are listed as remote. The drone mapping startup is based in San Francisco, Calif., notorious for its high cost of living. But the company has modified its job page to frequently cite its remote-friendly culture, likely in response to people seeking coronavirus job benefits.

The company’s bulleted list of benefits lists “remote-first culture” at the top spot. Other benefits listed on DroneDeploy’s jobs page include “weekly virtual yoga classes” and “weekly virtual boot camp workout classes.”

All job postings currently posted on the DroneDeploy careers page are listed as “remote.”

According to a recent report by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16.3 million Americans are still unemployed due to the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

For some companies, they’re using those stats as an opportunity to promote the idea of working for yourself — which is fairly common in the drone industry. After all, a number of drone pilots have reported earning six figures annually through their freelance work.

One of those companies is Aquiline, which is offering up drone courses that teach you how to start your own career in drones. Earlier this summer, the Hartford, Connecticut-based company launched what they call “an employment initiative” dubbed Flight to the Future, which they say will help pilots and the general public re-boot their careers by becoming certified commercial drone operators. It’s essentially an online training course that teaches you how to run your own drone business business, and it costs between $800 and $1,000. Aquiline said it is also currently in the midst of a massive corporate office expansion of its own.

And a number of other drone companies are on a hiring spree right now — though not necessarily all remote. Among the drone companies that have recently posted a number of job openings include Connect Robotics, DJI, Picterra, Pix4D, and Propeller. Job openings range from engineer to HR to sales and marketing.

While a number of American industries are struggling, the drone industry seems to be on a tear. 2019 marked a record year for drone industry investment. As far as drones in the skies, the commercial drone fleet grew by 39% from 2018 to 2019. And LAANC authorizations —which are an imperfect, but still solid indicator of drone flights as they’re required for commercial pilots who want automatic approval to fly in certain controlled airspace — are also at record highs.

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