Filling Technical School Capacity; Directing Graduates To Aviation Careers Keys to Filling Growing Aviation Maintenance Technician Gap, Report Finds
JENKS, Oklahoma – Technical schools have ample capacity to help fill a widening gap between the demand for qualified maintenance employees and the number of new employees joining the industry, while increasing the number of females and guiding more newly trained candidates to aviation jobs offer two strategies for boosting the mechanic population. Those are the key takeaways from a new report examining the aviation maintenance technician (AMT) pipeline.
The report, based on data collected by Aviation Technician Education Council (ATEC), found that new entrants make up 2% of the AMT population annually, while 30% of the workforce is at or near retirement age. In the U.S., FAA-certified Aviation Maintenance Technician schools (AMTS) produce about 60% of new mechanics, with the military and on-the-job training accounting for the rest. As of mid-November, the aggregate enrollment at all AMTs was about 17,800 students, but their capacity is nearly 34,300.
“The need for new mechanics is steadily rising,” said Crystal Maguire, ATEC executive director. “Increasing enrollment should be a major focus of both the schools and the companies that rely on new mechanics to help support their operations.”
One low-hanging fruit: attracting more female candidates. The FAA airman database includes 286,000 certificated mechanics. Females make up 2.3% of the certificate mechanic workforce, up from 1.7% in 2001.
While filling the pipeline is important, results from an ATEC survey conducted as part of its research reiterates the need for aviation to retain the graduates AMTS schools produce. AMTS respondents estimate that 20% of graduates pursue careers outside of aviation, and only 60% elect to take the FAA test for mechanic certification.
AMTS and industry recognize these challenges, and are better defining career paths for students through innovative partnerships. When asked about formal cooperative agreements with employers, 87% of AMTS respondents said they had relationships with industry companies, with repair station partnerships leading the way.
“Connections between schools and employers in their regions are among the most promising tactics for developing sustainable aviation maintenance workforce-development pipelines, and ATEC continues to support them in a number of ways,” said ATEC President and Spartan College of Aeronautics & Technology Vice President of Business Development and Aviation Advisor Ryan Goertzen. “These collaborative partnerships are win-win: they help employers staff key positions, and serve as powerful recruitment tools for schools looking to boost enrollment.”
ATEC leads several grassroots efforts that connect aspiring technicians with employers. It has launched a series of networking events at its annual conference, and is supporting the Talent Solution Coalition, which connects schools and employers in specific workforce-development programs.
Other notable findings provided in the report:
Download the Pipeline Report at http://www.atec-amt.org/2017-survey.html.
About ATEC: ATEC is a partnership of aviation maintenance training schools and employers. The council is dedicated to promoting and supporting technician education through its communications, advocacy programs and networking events. To learn more, visit http://www.atec-amt.org/.
Aviation maintenance faculty at Southern Illinois University and Middle Tennessee State University are conducting research to support the collective use of online course delivery and other computer-based training.
To aid the study, researches are surveying part 147 program instructors. Results will be presented at the 2018 ATEC Annual Conference.
For questions, contact Karen Johnson at Southern Illinois University Carbondale or Daniel Siao at Middle Tennessee State University.
The Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC) Airman Certification Standards (ACS) working group is commenting on the draft Airframe Handbook (FAA-H-8083-31A), expected to publish September 2018.
While the FAA did not distribute the handbook for public comment, members are invited to provide feedback through ATEC for consideration by the working group.
Draft Airframe Handbook, Volume I is available here.
Draft Airframe Handbook, Volume II is available here.
Comments are due to email@example.com by January 20.
Update: The following post was published in September 2017. As of December 2017, the FAA has not yet issued the expected supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking for part 147. Agency officials have stated that the rulemaking is still in progress and is expected to publish "soon."
The aviation maintenance technician school docket was recently revised to include a second NPRM in its regulatory plan timetable. According to the revision, a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SNPRM) will be published in October 2017.
An SNPRM is generally issued when a proposed rule has been substantially changed from the original notice of proposed rulemaking. The supplemental notice advises the public of the revised proposal and provides an opportunity for additional comment.
Given developments with Airman Certification Standards since the original NPRM was issued, and strong comments by ATEC and other industry groups calling for a less prescriptive rule with opportunity for competency-based training systems, the council is optimistic that the revised proposal will provide a better framework for aviation maintenance school programs.
While the additional step will likely delay promulgation, ATEC is confident that another round of review and comment will help ensure the next iteration of part 147 will last the test of time. Stay tuned.
Recognize an outstanding aviation maintenance technology student or instructor.
ATEC is now accepting nominations for the James Reardon Aviation Maintenance Technician Student of the Year Award and the Ivan D. Livi Aviation Maintenance Educator of the Year Award. The awards recognize individuals who - through academic excellence, community involvement or professional skill - makes a direct, positive impact on their associates, school or community.
Award winners will be recognized at the ATEC annual conference in Washington DC, being held March 17-20. Nominations are due January 31.
Stay tuned for updates on everything ATEC members need to know as well as ways that you can help the council and the AMTS community.