Pointing to a helicopter industry study finding of a potential severe mechanic shortage over the next two decades, the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics (PIA) is stressing the need to educate high schools students, as well as working professionals, about available training options.
Released earlier this year, the study forecasts an even a shortage of 40,613 certified aviation mechanics by 2036. Conducted by the University of North Dakota in partnership with Helicopter Foundation International and Helicopter Association International, the study further found that 70 percent of operators find it harder to hire mechanics and 75 percent of those hiring mechanics were only able to find personnel with less than the desired experience. “More than 57 percent believe that the inability to hire mechanics in the coming years will interfere with their growth and expansion plans,” according to the study.
Maintenance technician training has become such a concern that lawmakers in the House and the Senate have introduced bills to create a pilot program offering grants for industry, the government, and academia to team on programs to attract and develop more technicians. HAI joined a number of industry organizations strongly endorsing the bill in a joint letter. “Given the scale of the challenge facing companies around the country, the legislation could not be timelier," the letter stated.
The letter also pointed to findings of the Aviation Technician Education Council (ATEC) that new entrants to the workforce represent just two percent of the aviation technician population annually, while 30 percent of the workforce is at or near retirement age. ATEC was also among the organizations signing on to the letter.
PIA echoed the organizations’ concerns. “Without well-trained pilots and skilled mechanics, helicopter-related companies will struggle to staff their teams, satisfy their customers, and expand their businesses,” the institution said. “To solve this problem and close the helicopter industry’s employment gap, thousands of new applicants must obtain the required training and certifications to fill these job openings.”
The institution sees a need to highlight awareness of training options, including trade schools. “High school students and working professionals who seek a career change must be made aware of the lasting value and job satisfaction available through trade school training,” said PIA, which provides a range of programs in aviation maintenance and electronics.