As many of you already know, the labor shortage is here. The aviation industry is currently experiencing a shortage of pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers, cabin crew, and engineers; it seems as though every aviation career field is hiring. With the prediction that the worst is yet to come, now is a time, more than ever, to share these career opportunities with our youth.
Here are just a few of the endeavors the North Dakota Aviation Council (NDAC) is working on to promote aviation careers to our youth:
For the Upper Midwest Aviation Symposium (UMAS) in Minot this March, it is important to note that the NDAC provides all students with FREE admission. High school and college students are eligible for free admission to UMAS, funded through a grant from the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the industry and network with North Dakota pilots, mechanics, airport managers, UAS operators and more. If you know of a student who may be interested, please share this opportunity with them and encourage them to attend.
We are working on an Aviation Career Expo for Fall 2020. This annual event, for high school and college students interested in aviation careers, will provide the opportunity to hear from excellent speakers and network with industry representatives from North Dakota and beyond. We hope to be able to provide scholarships to many of these students, which will be awarded at the Expo. We are currently in the planning process for this event and are looking for exhibitors, speakers, and scholarship contributors.
Through the FAA Reauthorization Act passed last year, along with appropriation of funds in December 2019, the federal government will be granting funds for both aviation technician programs and pilot education programs for high school students. The NDAC is currently working hard to gather information and put together a viable application to enhance aviation education in North Dakota.
In addition to the initiatives mentioned here, we have many great educational activities happening regularly throughout the state. The University of North Dakota will be hosting a FREE Aerospace Community Day on February 8, 2020. Our aviation museums offer FREE youth camps regularly throughout the year. Aviation Education Programs are available at every high school throughout the state, either face-to-face or via distance education. The Grand Forks Air Force Base will be hosting an Air and Space Expo on August 1-2, featuring the U.S.A.F. Thunderbird Air Demonstration Squadron. And as always, there are many fly-ins throughout the spring, summer, and fall at airports near you.
I encourage every one of you to share your passion for the aviation industry, especially by bringing a young person – or a group of young people – to one or more of these events. There is so much happening in our state for aviation education, it is too much to share in just one article. If you have ideas, questions, or are interested in becoming more involved in the planning of NDAC sponsored programs, please reach out to Darren Hall or myself, Mike McHugh.
Mike McHugh, Education Coordinator
North Dakota Aeronautics Commission