Central Florida-based MRO provider Avocet Aviation is launching a new “Stand Up for STEM” program to address the growing need for qualified labor in the industry. Aimed at promoting careers in MRO and improving readiness for the industry workforce, the program will consist of a three-year apprenticeship program that will roll out this fall and a co-op/internship initiative through a university that Avocet plans to announce in December.
To accommodate the program, Avocet plans to expand its facilities at the Orlando-Sanford International Airport with an on-site STEM-focused school, workshop and training area. Additional future plans include reaching out to young students through hosted field trips and career days, as well as developing similar learning programs for inspection authorization, avionics and management.
Avocet CEO Patrick Arellano Sr. believes taking a proactive approach to ensure the MRO industry continues to thrive is an industry-wide responsibility. “The labor gap in the MRO industry is a reality that we all face, therefore, we all share in the responsibility to grow the number of qualified, highly-skilled workers in the field by elevating the role of mechanics and technicians within our industry,” he says.
According to Boeing’s market outlook for 2016-35, there will be a projected global requirement for 679,000 aircraft maintenance technicians through 2035. This need, paired with the projected shortage of aviation mechanics within the next decade, has the MRO industry searching for solutions.
Other aviation companies leveraging apprenticeship and educational programs include Maine-based MRO provider C&L Aviation Services and Southwest Airlines, which also holds summer camps and events to introduce students to the industry. Similarly, the FAA has a STEM Aviation and Space Education program to teach children and young adults about careers in the industry. In the past four years, the JetBlue Foundation has granted $512,000 to more than 26 aviation-focused programs to support STEM based initiatives.
“What will set our program apart is the opportunity we will provide students to perform hands-on work in a real-life environment as part of a fully-operational MRO facility,” says Arellano.
Avocet’s co-op/internship initiative is set to officially launch in Q1 2018. Although the company hopes students training with them will want to stay with Avocet, the ultimate goal is to benefit the industry overall.