Workforce Development Stresses Cooperation

Business aviation and ATC union missing from FAA symposium.

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The industry problem of too few qualified workers for an avalanche of jobs is pretty clear. The solution to that problem however, will demand some years to create.NBAA

It's not exactly breaking news that the aviation industry is running short of pilots and maintenance technicians. Boeing recently said the industry worldwide will require nearly 800,000 flight crew and nearly the same number of technicians over the next 20 years.

The FAA last week held a Workforce Development Symposium in Washington to call attention to the need to stop talking about a people shortage and to begin looking for solutions. The NBAA held its own business aviation workforce summit in DC last month focused on the need for the aviation industry to work together to solve what seems like a nearly insurmountable hurdle.

At the FAA symposium, DOT Secretary Elaine Chao said, “This issue goes far beyond what the government alone can do. It’s incumbent upon all of us to find solutions.” Dr. Heather Wilson, Secretary of the Air Force said, “The aviation workforce is underrepresented when it comes to women and minorities. There’s a deep talent pool out there that can’t afford a ticket to the show, not even in the nosebleed section. The U.S. military has also been struggling with its own pilot shortage.

The Aerospace Industries Association’s Frank Slazer said his group is trying to create more apprenticeships to help young people learn on the job to reduce the financial burden. One symposium attendee told Flying he believes the DOT may be planning to reach out to the Secretary of Education to consider funding for schools that don’t currently qualify for federal student funding to discuss solutions.

The FAA Symposium was broken up into five distinct panel sessions representing industry players like the major and regional airlines, the U.S. Air Force, AOPA, EAA, ALPA, a number of academic institutions and the Departments of Education and Labor. Noticeably absent from the panel discussions were any spokespeople for business aviation and the air traffic controller workforce, two significant segments also facing a shortage of qualified workers.

On its own however, business aviation is looking into new ways to partner with corporate flight departments to capture the interest of potential candidates and make them aware of the dozens of scholarship and internship opportunities available in this segment. The NBAA has partnered with GAMA, Women in Aviation International, EAA, AOPA and Women in Corporate Aviation, as well as a number of regional NBAA affiliate groups like the Michigan Business Aviation Association, the Northern California Business Aviation Association and the Chicago Area Business Aviation Association.