AOPA, Choose Aerospace Target Worker Shortage

An educational partnership between AOPA and Choose Aerospace is seeking to breed opportunities for jobs in the aviation industry.

AOPA and Choose Aerospace are collaborating with the goal of increasing education opportunities. [Shutterstock]

For years we have been hearing about a labor shortage in aviation. As the industry grows, so does the need for pilots, cabin crew, mechanics, and technicians. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Foundation (AOPA) and Choose Aerospace are partnering to establish a formal agreement to help increase education opportunities so these jobs are filled.

According to AOPA, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) has been signed to create a means of collaboration to “identify curriculum alignment, jointly promote each other’s educational materials, and pursue grant-funding opportunities related to aviation.”

The MOU was put into place to share ideas, best practices, and training resources to help both organizations meet the ongoing and increasing demand for skilled aviation professionals.

“This agreement allows the AOPA Foundation and Choose Aerospace to collaborate more closely,” said Glenn Ponas, AOPA Foundation director of high school outreach. “Together, we will be able to provide our respective curricula and resources to school districts and career technical centers and support them in creating pathways to careers as pilots, drone pilots, and aviation maintenance technicians.”

The AOPA Foundation represents the organization's philanthropic arm. The collaboration with Choose Aerospace is the first of multiple efforts from the foundation to document and coordinate aviation programs and resources.

The Process

Both groups play key roles in helping the industry meet its workforce demand by providing education, training, and employment pathways in the communities they serve.

“Aviation industry stakeholders recognize the need to invest resources and collaborate as part of developing a sustainable, diverse workforce,” said Ryan Goertzen, vice president of workforce development at AAR Corp. and president of Choose Aerospace. “The Choose Aerospace-AOPA Foundation partnership will help both organizations maximize their already-productive efforts to feed aerospaces workforce pipeline.”

There are plans to promote the curriculum through social media, newsletters, and joint presentations to schools and the aviation industry.

How Many Jobs Will There Be?

According to recent data from Boeing, there will be a need for 649,000 pilots, 690,000 technicians, and 938,000 cabin crewmembers over the next 20 years. The company also noted that domestic air travel is back to pre-pandemic levels, and international travel is also increasing again.

About the Groups

Choose Aerospace is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit partnership of aerospace stakeholders joined together to increase the availability of a diverse, qualified, technical workforce to support industry growth. The Choose Aerospace two-year AMT general prep course complements the AOPA Foundation drone and pilot pathways, enabling school districts that participate to create direct pathways to three in-demand aviation careers.

AOPA, established in 1939, is the world's largest community of pilots, aircraft owners, and aviation enthusiasts. The association was created to provide advocacy at the local, state, and federal levels, and encourage flight training and aviation accessibility. The partnership will be introduced at the first AOPA Aviation and Aerospace Workforce Development Summit  at the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport on November 12. The AOPA You Can Fly High School Aviation STEM Symposium will follow the summit on November 12 through 14. Both events are open to organizations that offer high school aviation curricula and resources.

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

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