Strengthening and expanding a blossoming workforce-development program that links high school students and major aviation companies was the focus of a half-day summit at participant Tulsa Tech's Owasso Campus on October 13.
The "Industry In Service" event spotlighted participants in Choose Aerospace, an aerospace workforce pipeline development program that prepares high school students and others to become certified aviation maintenance professionals.
Oklahoma, with 12 of the 21 educational institutions that have signed on, is leading the way in the fledgling program's development. Three of the 12 Oklahoma participants are in the Tulsa metro area: Sand Springs High School, Okmulgee High School, and Tulsa Public East Central High School.
Representatives from these schools and other Tulsa-based institutions were on hand along with local executives from several companies that support Choose Aerospace, including American Airlines, The NORDAM Group LLC, Lufthansa Technik, and Spirit AeroSystems. The summit's goal was to share best practices and generate more interest among schools and communities as part of a broader workforce development effort.
Oklahoma Lieutenant Governor Matt Pinnell kicked off the summit, spotlighting the state's commitment to workforce development at the highest levels.
“The second largest, most powerful, influential industry in the state of Oklahoma is our aerospace industry,” said Pinnell. “We've got to tell kids, and working adults for that matter, in all 77 counties that there are amazing opportunities when it comes to aviation and aerospace. In this part of the state and across the state, we want to make Oklahoma the best place to choose aerospace.”
The event was also supported by Tulsa Tech, the Tulsa Regional Chamber’s Aerospace Council, Oklahoma CareerTech and the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission.
Schools that adopt the Choose Aerospace curriculum offer students direct pathways to accredited aviation maintenance schools or apprenticeships with aircraft manufacturers, airlines, and maintenance providers. Such pathways are seen as a key to developing and diversifying the workforce in the rapidly expanding U.S. aviation industry. As one of the U.S.'s largest and most well-developed aerospace business regions, Oklahoma is an ideal area for the program to blossom and serves as an example of how to develop focused, sustainable aviation career pipelines.
For more information, visit chooseaerospace.org/curriculum.
Choose Aerospace is a partnership of aerospace stakeholders including companies, associations, labor unions and education institutions, joined to address the availability of a diverse, qualified technical workforce and to spur interest in aerospace careers, and identify and implement solutions to the aerospace workforce shortage. A primary objective for Choose Aerospace is to make aerospace career and technical training a priority in secondary schools and to provide multiple career paths to success within the industry.
From left to right: Choose Aerospace Executive Director Crystal Maguire, Oklahoma Lieutenant Governor Matt Pinnell, and American Airlines Workforce Development and Strategy representative Chase Beasley discuss state-based aviation workforce development initiatives ahead of Pinnell’s remarks at the Choose Aerospace In Service event.
Industry and educators, including The NORDAM Group LLC Director of Corporate Social Responsibility and Communication Mandy Monahan, network and discuss aviation pathway programs at the Choose Aerospace In Service event.