Businesses, Cities, States and Colleges Partner to Grow Aviation Talent Pipeline

A new report by global aviation services provider, AAR (NYSE: AIR), examines the significant opportunities for the industry to grow its pool of aircraft maintenance workers and track progress through public-private partnerships, targeted recruitment and career pathways that are designed using stackable credentials toward advancement.

In "EAGLE Pathways: Bridging the Middle-Skills Gap to Careers in Aviation," AAR talks about the reasons behind aviation's talent gap for aircraft maintenance technicians and repair personnel. Among the report's conclusions: Recruiting should focus on the estimated 6.5 million discouraged or underemployed American workers, military veterans, and historically underrepresented groups like women, African Americans and Latinos. Another target are students who favor a less expensive two-year degree or industry skills certification as a pathway to a good job over the high tuition and crushing debt of a four-year degree.

The report cites industry research that estimates demand for 189,000 new AMTs in North America through 2037. The number of AMTs nearing retirement is 30% while new hires represent just 2%.

AAR has been working across the country to build partnerships with cities, states and schools to grow the pipeline. AAR president and CEO, John Holmes, is visiting Indianapolis to discuss growing the aviation workforce with Indiana Govenor Eric Holcomb and local and state officials under the state's new Next Level Jobs initiative, which includes employer training grants of up to $50,000.

"We're seeing firsthand today the ways Next Level Jobs is working for Indiana employers," Govenor Holcomb says. "The feedback we've received from businesses has been overwhelmingly positive and useful. They're helping us identify ways the Next Level Jobs initiative can be stronger and put more Hoosiers to work in better paying jobs, faster."

Holmes announces along with Vincennes University president, Charles Johnson, an expansion of its training partnership under AAR's new EAGLE Career Pathway program. Students will be able to earn stackable credentials that lead to several careers at AAR. They'll experience job shadowing and mentoring and get academic support. Those who pursue their FAA aircraft mechanics certificate are eligible for up to $15,000 in tuition reimbursements from AAR. Since October, AAR has introduced the EAGLE program at colleges in Kalamazoo, MI; Chicago and Rockford, IL; and Duluth, MN. (A summary of AAR's partnerships can be found in the report at

"One of our top priorities is to increase training and job prospects, not just for AAR but across the aviation industry," Holmes says. "We believe more people will choose aviation if they are aware of the training opportunities and the favorable job prospects in this exciting industry."

In other promising developments, the report cites the industry's success at lobbying for updates to FAA training protocols and bipartisan support, led by Sen. Jim Inhofe, for provisions aimed at growing the aviation workforce included in the FAA Reauthorization Bill passed by Congress in October.

"The aviation maintenance industry offers high-paying jobs all across the nation to workers with the right skills," says Sen. Inhofe, who is a pilot with over 11,000 flight hours. "The programs I authored in the FAA Reauthorization last year will help develop innovative ways to recruit and educate the next generation of America's aviation workforce. I appreciate efforts by all stakeholders to invest in their workforce and look forward to AAR expanding these efforts to other cities where they maintain a strong presence."