The U.S. Department of Transportation has appointed 20 representatives from across the industry to serve on a newly-formed Youth Access to American Jobs in Aviation Task Force that will work to encourage high school students to pursue aviation careers. Established at the behest of Congress, the task force will consider means to help steer U.S. high school students toward technical and STEM educations, including those related to aviation. The task force will explore possibilities for apprenticeships, workforce development programs, and careers in the U.S.
“This task force will help identify and develop pathways to encourage a diversity of young people to enter the exciting aviation sector of the future,” said Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in announcing the appointments.
“We know that introducing students to the wonders of aerospace when they are in the early high school years can inspire them to pursue careers in the field,” added FAA Administrator Steve Dickson.
Sharon DeVivo, president of Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology, will chair the task force, which also includes representatives from air carriers; aircraft, powerplant, and avionics manufacturers; aircraft repair stations; local educational agencies or high schools; and higher education, including community colleges and aviation trade schools.
Among them are Joanne “Jo” Damato, v-p of education and workforce development for NBAA. Damato, who stepped into her current role in 2019, has served with NBAA for nearly 20 years, originally managing the association’s air traffic services function at the FAA Air Traffic Control System Command Center.
Others on the committee are Amy Voss (Cirrus Aircraft), Brett Levanto (the Aeronautical Repair Station Association), Kasey Herzberg (Aircraft Data Fusion), Stacey Bechdolt (the Aerospace Education Resource Organization), Joey Colleran (Redbird Flight Simulations), Ralph Coppola (Real World Design Challenge), Whitney Dix (Southwest Airlines), Joel English (Centura College), Ryan Goertzen (Maintenance Workforce Development), James Hall (Wichita State University), Jennifer Henderson (Boeing Aircraft), and Nancy Shane Hocking (JetBlue Airways).
In addition, members include Tammera Holmes (Aerostar Avion Institute), John Hornibrook (Horizon Airlines/Alaska Air Group), John Huff (Haeco Americas/ Aeronautical Repair Station Association), David Purser (Karnes City High School), Yvette Rose (Cargo Airline Association), and Cyd Smith (Elkins Park School).
“We are at a pivotal moment in history to reach out and develop the next generation of aviation and aerospace leadership,” DeVivo said. “By bringing together a diverse group of industry and education leaders, we have a unique opportunity to create a set of recommendations that ensures a long-term pipeline of qualified talent while also prioritizing a pathway for traditionally underrepresented groups.”