The Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) and the Aviation Technician Education Council (ATEC) are confirming what MROs have been saying for several years: the pool of skilled aviation maintenance technicians is drying up and not enough students are entering the system. “Policy Solutions for a Stronger Technical Workforce,” a newly released report commissioned by ARSA and ATEC and developed by researchers at the College of William and Mary’s Thomas Jefferson Program in Public Policy, examines the technical worker shortage facing the aviation industry and sheds new light on the challenges of finding, retaining and expanding an aviation maintenance workforce.
Brett Levanto, director of operations for Obadal, Filler, MacLeod and Klein, the firm that manages both ATEC and ARSA, said those working in the industry see evidence of a looming crisis in the workforce every day.
“It’s baffling that big studies from trustworthy groups—the GAO comes to mind—are unable to find evidence that there’s anything wrong. This report is a step in the process of rooting out those underlying problems, helping us to target and improve bad data and really wrap our arms around what’s going on. When we get to that point, when we have a clearly defined burning platform, that’s when we’ll be ready to save the aviation maintenance workforce. We will get there,” Levanto told AIN.
Despite the limitations, as well as the unreliable reporting of national statistics, the analysis makes it clear that different regions of the U.S. face varied realities in terms of technical workforce development. As a result, the authors recommend companies and interest groups build strategic partnerships with employers, educational institutions and community and government organizations on local and regional levels.
The researchers' regional approach provides a blueprint for the aviation community to grapple with workforce challenges. “The research team took advantage of some great examples from across the industry to give us this basic roadmap for success: think globally, act locally,” said Christian Klein, ARSA’s executive vice president. “I know that’s an old, familiar phrase, but it’s especially useful here. The only way for businesses, government and teaching institutions to solve big, daunting national workforce problems is to look in their surrounding communities and get active in a planned, strategic way.”