For MRO Management, Ken MacTiernan, vice president of the Aerospace Maintenance Council (AMC), explores the pressing need for a solution to the aircraft maintenance professionals’ shortfall, emphasising the crucial role of industry and individuals in tackling the issue head-on.
Manufacturers, academia, commercial and cargo airlines and MRO facilities have all acknowledged that there has been, and continues to be, a shortage of aircraft maintenance technicians (AMTs). This agreed upon fact affects the aerospace maintenance community worldwide, but what is being done to ensure the pipeline for skilled AMTs is met? Money is certainly an incentive, as are flight benefits and a matching pension. But the compensations for becoming an AMT mean nothing if no one is listening.
Future AMTs need to be made aware that this great profession even exists. But where to start? That answer is easy. High school students around the age of 14 is a good place to begin. Most young people at this age aren’t laser focused on what career they want to pursue. Sure, they might have a vague idea, but the high cost of a college tuition is certainly a restraint to be considered. Society needs to promote trades as an option for students and be clear that not getting a college degree right after high school does not equate to failure.
The aerospace maintenance community needs to understand the importance of their collective position of facing a shrinking pool of AMTs. The industry needs to take on a stakeholder role and foster the AMT craft and profession. The industry needs to work together, but how can this be accomplished when each sector of the maintenance community is fighting over the same limited pool of candidates? That answer is also easy: spark students’ interest.
There are trade organisations such as the Aviation Technician Education Council (ATEC), the Association for Women in Aviation (AWAM), the Professional Aviation Maintenance Association (PAMA), the Aerospace Maintenance Council (AMC) and the Northrop Rice Foundation (NRF) that all promote and support aviation maintenance technician education. These not-for-profit organisations can help the aerospace maintenance community fill their demand for skilled AMTs because that is their collective mission goal: to promote our proud, skilled profession.
With the industry’s support, these organisations can help alleviate the shortfall of the required aerospace maintenance workforce. By reaching out to students, these organisations can directly spark an interest into entering this craft. They can do this by pulling back the veil and showing that this industry even exists.
By leveraging technological advancements such as augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) used by MRO facilities, the message of being in a skilled profession is getting out. These organisations can reach out to young women and show them that they can enter this field. To assist the students these organisations reach, the industry can help provide scholarships and mentorships which will encourage students to enter this profession.
You can play a part
But the industry is not the only answer to fixing this problem of a shortage of AMTs. Another way to tackle this matter is the individual AMT. Yes, you. Showing students in person what being an AMT is all about not only helps pull back the veil that hides the existence of our craft, but kicks the door wide open. And doing this is easy. All it takes is passion. There are high schools in all our neighbourhoods and they all have career days organised by the school or the local school district. I have been invited to attend two separate career fairs earlier this year and all it took was my calling a local high school and offering to talk about becoming an AMT. You would be amazed by how many students and parents were unaware of how to become an AMT. If I can do it, others can do it too. It does not require tremendous amounts of time and the satisfaction that you might have helped influence a student to enter a highly skilled and rewarding profession is priceless.
If talking to students directly about the technical aspects of being an AMT and the training that they will receive is not something you feel comfortable doing, then maybe coordinate with your company and arrange a tour of your workplace. Students walking into an MRO facility and looking at an aircraft that is going through a heavy check, or visiting the terminal where an aircraft is parked for an RON inspection and seeing a cockpit or engine cowl opened up for a filter change, could be a life-changing moment for a young man or woman who never thought about becoming an AMT.
This feature was first published in MRO Management – August/September 2023. To read the magazine in full, click here.
DID YOU KNOW…
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