Chicago-based AAR has been selected by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office as aviation industry partner for a new education-to-careers engagement strategy between the City Colleges of Chicago and private business to prepare residents for jobs in high-growth sectors. The Colleges to Careers initiative focuses on building industry partnerships for careers in aviation, healthcare, logistics, hospitality and information technology.
According to AAR chairman and CEO David Storch, the mismatch between available jobs and employee qualifications has delayed hiring at companies poised to participate in the economic and jobs recovery. The mayor’s office highlighted AAR’s report, The Mid-skills Gap in Middle America: Building Today’s Workforce, and the company’s need to fill 600 positions requiring a high degree of specialization and FAA certification.
Under the partnership, AAR will assist with designing A&P mechanic and avionics curricula at Olive-Harvey College. The company will also provide AAR professionals to help teach; introduce real-world knowledge of the industry; and offer internships, facility tours and interviews for jobs at its facilities in Indianapolis and Wood Dale, Ill. More…
“What we’re seeing today is more a matter of fit, scale and awareness of jobs in our industry. There simply aren’t enough people with the right skills in the pipeline. While we’re able to keep pace with our customers’ demands, filling these open positions would help us to grow at a faster rate and put people to work,” Tim Skelly, chief human resource officer for AAR, told AIN.
At the heart of the problem, according to Skelly, is a gap between the skills of the available work force and the skills needed to fill open positions. “We believe this problem is not limited to AAR or even the aerospace industry but one that exists for mid-skills positions in various industries across Middle America. The aviation schools that we partner with have indicated that enrollment is a challenge, and we’re joining forces on a number of outreach efforts to attract young people to an industry that operates largely behind the scenes to the general public.”
Skelly said AAR has had success attracting and retaining people with a competitive overall compensation and benefits package that includes a good wage, benefits, tuition reimbursement, access to ongoing training and opportunities for advancement.
Discussing the strict requirements of FAR Part 147 and how the regulation can make it difficult to add advanced industry-specific training while staying within the minimum required training hours to stay competitive with other programs, Skelly said AAR intends to work closely with the FAA.
“The FAA has expressed an interest in finding new ways to advance the curriculum within the parameters of current regulations and laws. It’s a long-term strategy that helps address an ongoing challenge in our industry,” he said.