As the industry concerns grow over the labor shortage, MRO AAR has released a new report that explores opportunities to build the pool of aviation maintenance workers. The report, “EAGLE Pathways: Bridging the Middle-Skills Gap to Careers in Aviation,” looks at means to bring in new workers and track progress through public-private partnerships, targeted recruitment, and career paths that provide for advancement.
It points to areas of potential recruitment, including the estimated 6.5 million discouraged or underemployed American workers, military veterans, and historically underrepresented workers such as women, African Americans, and Latinos. Prospects also include students who prefer a less expensive two-year degree or industry skills certifications to a more costly a four-year degree.
Industry research has estimated a need for 189,000 new aviation maintenance technicians in North America alone through 2037. However, nearly 30 percent of the existing force is nearing retirement, while new hires represent only about 2 percent of workers.
AAR said it has been building partnerships with various cities, states, and schools to ensure its pipeline. In fact, AAR president and CEO John Holmes was in Indianapolis this week to discuss Indiana’s Next Level Jobs initiative with Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and other local and state officials. That initiative includes employer-training grants of up to $50,000.
“One of our top priorities is to increase training and job prospects not just for AAR but across the aviation industry,” Holmes said. “We believe more people will choose aviation if they are aware of the training opportunities and the favorable job prospects in this exciting industry.”
Additionally, AAR this week announced an expansion of its training partnership with Vincennes University, under which students can earn credits that lead to several careers at AAR. Through the program, students will job shadow, receive mentoring, get academic support, and, for mechanic students, possibly qualify for up to $15,000 in tuition reimbursement. AAR has introduced similar programs at colleges in Kalamazoo, Michigan; Chicago and Rockford, Illinois; and Duluth, Minnesota.