Printed headline: BLS Projections
Changes to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) career tool should make aviation mechanic careers more attractive, but an industry coalition request to make the distinction between certificated and non-certificated personnel went unheeded.
Two of the 820 occupations in the BLS classification system are applicable to aviation maintenance technicians. The professions “aircraft mechanics and service technicians” and “avionics technicians” are considered separately for purposes of wage and projection calculations but are in the same BLS-designated occupational group, “Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians,” for career information purposes.
Every two years, the BLS publishes a 10-year outlook that includes, for each occupation, the anticipated percent change (how fast the number of jobs is projected to increase or decrease over the next decade) and numeric change (how many jobs an occupation is expected to gain or lose during the decade). The BLS also estimates job openings due to anticipated growth and replacement needs.
Historically, job openings were calculated through a “replacement method,” which assumes workers are replaced by the younger generation. “In a traditional conception of a worker’s career, this assumption is valid: Workers enter at a young age, work in their field until they are old, and then retire, creating opportunities for the next generation of young workers,” according to the BLS website. Given today’s reality—that workers do not remain in the same occupation throughout their career—the BLS looked for another model.
The “separations method” directly measures workers who leave an occupation and takes into consideration a wide range of demographics in addition to age. In that way, the BLS says this method better accounts for future patterns of openings in an occupation.
Under the new methodology, the projected number of openings for new aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians increased to 12,400 per year from 3,300. And anticipated growth jumped to 5% from 1%—in line with the national average.
The change has had positive ripple effects. The U.S. Labor Department-sponsored resource MyNextMove.org has historically dubbed aviation mechanic and technician jobs as “less likely in the future” (Inside MRO August, p. MRO6) The career tool translates the newest occupation projection and upgrades careers in aviation maintenance from a “below average outlook” to an “average outlook.” (A “bright outlook” designation is reserved for occupations with at least 10% projected growth, or 100,000 or more job openings over the next 10 years.)
The news is good for educational institutions with aviation maintenance technical programs. These largely state-supported schools rely on government funding; scholarship and grant distributions are often prioritized according to BLS projections.
While industry could certainly use a bigger boost, given growing workforce concerns, the numbers are certainly moving in the right direction.