National effort needed to encourage students to pursue aviation careers

Knowing someone already in the aviation or aerospace field can be a huge influence on middle and high school students. Teachers and parents, in particular, can greatly influence career choices, according to the findings of the Department of Transportation Youth Access to American Jobs in Aviation Task Force (YIATF).

The task force also found that having a nationwide curriculum to let students achieve recognized aviation credentials, such as an A&P certification, would be useful.

The task force also discovered that underrepresented groups are much less likely to have awareness of potential career opportunities in the aviation industry, according to Jo Damato, vice president of educational strategy and workforce development for the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and a member of the task force.

“That’s why it’s so important to have a national strategy and to get good information out to the public,” said Damato. “Having a one-stop-shopping national aviation website would provide much-needed information to students, parents, and teachers. The task force is also exploring concepts for a Summer Teaching Academy program and a virtual counselor program. Many youth do not have access to people in the aviation industry.”

Inspiring young people and providing a clear pathway for students to choose a career in aviation is the goal of the task force, which recently held its second public meeting to discuss recommendations and strategies to encourage students to pursue a career in aviation or aerospace. The task force is made up of individuals from the aviation industry and the academic community.

“We have been meeting regularly since last year and working individually to discover what the impediments are to widespread dissemination of aviation career information,” Damato said. “We have already identified the lack of both a centralized location for aviation career information and a national strategy that engages students and helps guide them on the pathways as missing pieces.”

“We need a national database or mechanism that helps track the youths who are showing early interest in the career through participation in aviation-focused youth activities,” noted Damato.

The task force will report its final recommendations later this year.

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