A month ago I wrote about an education program that Airbus sponsors to help provide education as well as hands on training at the Airbus Lycée. That article led to a couple of pretty in-depth discussions on LinkedIn that are actually still going.
The general consensus of those discussions was that the aviation industry as a whole needs to do a better job promoting themselves, and all of the various options that exist for jobs in aviation. I for one think we also need to create more programs that provide better opportunities for young people to get training, and the all important “work experience”.
I came across another great program that is not only fostering aviation, but in some cases is leading to actual jobs.
The Alamo Area Aerospace Academy is one of four vocational training schools in the San Antonio area that puts students on the fast track to careers in various industries. The Aerospace Academy was developed out of a need for workers at Lockheed Martin. As their workforce was retiring they needed a pipeline for training young, new employees. So they worked with the local government, community college, aerospace companies, and school districts to develop a program to get kids excited about aviation, and get them the necessary training.
The program lasts two years and includes a paid internship between the students’ junior and senior years. During the school year the classes provide hands on training and experience while still earning students credit towards high school graduation, and even a good chunk of an associate degree.
This is exactly the type of program that we need more of in every industry, and especially in aviation. It is far easier to get excited about education when you see the practical application of it. The reality is that college is not for everyone, and that training like this can be far more valuable for many people than a four-year degree would ever be.
Apparently the program is creating the desired results as Lockheed Martin estimates that 20% of their direct hire workforce comes from the Aerospace Academy. And, as I already mentioned, three other industries have developed similar academies to train their own workforce.
While this is not necessarily the right approach for everyone, or every industry, we need to develop more programs just like this. Youth are ready to get excited about a career well before they reach college, and aviation needs to be there when they are developing that excitement. If we want to attract the best and the brightest, we need to get them hooked earlier than we are right now.
What other programs could we create to help get young people excited about aviation, and prepare them for potential careers in the industry?