With the ATC privatization fight now in the rearview mirror, NBAA plans to focus this year on business aviation’s acute workforce shortage, association president and CEO Ed Bolen said this morning at the NBAA Regional Forum in West Palm Beach, Florida. “Our industry is growing, but there are bottlenecks; there is a shortage of pilots and maintenance technicians, and we need them now!”
Due to this urgency, NBAA is targeting college students since they will be entering the workforce in the near term, while “still keeping the people we have” in the industry, according to Bolen. “But the challenge in attracting new people is how do we make an industry that has purposely flown under the radar more publicly known and accessible?”
On this front, NBAA is using lessons learned from the ATC battle, namely tapping into the industry’s grassroots to find what’s working and best practices, and then packaging that at the national level to redeploy for use at local levels. “We need to share who we are as an industry to young people, much like we’ve done with politicians in the past,” Bolen emphasized.
He also said business aviation’s attributes align well with millennials’ desires. “Today’s college students want experiences—see the world, meet new people—love technology, want to give back and have a higher purpose, have an opportunity for lifelong learning, and want to be part of a community,” Bolen noted. “Business aviation offers all of this and more.”
To promote business aviation as a career choice to young people, NBAA is providing tools for classrooms and fostering career days, as well as reaching out to the community on internships, mentorships, and best practices, Bolen said. He also noted that 250 students are being brought into today’s regional forum to see the 30 aircraft on static display and interact with the more than 150 exhibitors.
“We as an industry need to capture young people looking for a career and an opportunity to lead,” concluded Bolen. “We want them to come back to this regional forum in 10 years and say someone brought them into this industry.”