September 14, 2018
Piloting Young People Toward Rewarding Careers In Aviation
Original article by Forbes
Here at Reach Higher, we know there are many paths students can take to achieve a higher education and find a well-suited career. That’s why we’re proud to share this post from our friends at Explorers Aviation who are providing exciting opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience and training in the ever-growing field of aviation.
More and more of us are taking to the skies for travel, but we have fewer and fewer pilots and other aviation experts to help get us there safely. And while this talent shortage is a growing concern for the aviation industry, it’s also an amazing opportunity for young people looking to pursue a career where the sky is literally the limit.
Demand for pilots, aircraft mechanics, and engineers has never been higher, with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicting the number of air travelers across the globe to double by 2035. But at the same time, the number of pilots has dwindled by 30% in the U.S. over the past 30 years, and the industry faces similar shortages for other key skilled positions.
This talent gap creates a tremendous need to increase awareness among young people of the exciting, rewarding, and challenging careers that could await them in aviation. The Aviation Career Exploring program is working to address this need, providing real-life experiences that allow young people to better understand what it’s like to be a pilot, flight engineer, air traffic controller, flight attendant, or airport manager.
The aviation education initiative is a growing part of Exploring, a program offered through Learning for Life, an affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America. With partners that include the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and Alaska Airlines, we are working to establish 200 new Aviation Exploring posts and clubs across the U.S. this year, and to increase youth enrollment by 30%.
Aviation Exploring is open for young people from the sixth grade through age 20. Through 78 posts across the country today, students are able to tour airport facilities, work on flight scenarios, and even experience flight simulators. All posts are supported by active aviation professionals who provide participants with real-world advice on what to expect in an aviation career and how to prepare for it.
The program is making a real difference for young people like Didi Aranki, who developed a strong interest in aviation mechanics through real-life experiences at her Exploring post in Orange County, California.
“I found out that I loved aviation because of the Exploring program,” she said. “There are just so many different outlets and different programs, you may find out what you love without even knowing what it is.”
For Megan Ryan, involvement in the program has inspired her to not only pursue a career in aviation, but to also help spread the word about Aviation Exploring by serving as a national youth representative this year.
“For the past three years, I have experienced a wide range of aviation activities through my local post, such as participating in the national airshow, AirVenture, in Oshkosh,” she said. “My vision for improving Aviation Exploring is simply to let more people know about our program’s mission and goals, and to help young people pursuing careers in aviation find their path. The more people that know about the program, the more likely they are to join, participate and learn.”
These are just two of the many examples we’ve seen of young people being inspired by the Aviation Exploring program. Currently, more than 1,000 young people participate in the program, and our ambitious expansion goals will enable that number to rise in the years ahead.
With the support of industry professionals and awareness among young people of the opportunities available in aviation, we hope to meet and exceed these goals in the months ahead. Continued growth of the program can be a true win-win proposition: more young people are inspired to pursue rewarding careers in aviation, and the industry sees an influx of talent that it sorely needs.
Aviation is just one of the wide range of career experiences offered through Exploring. More than 2.8 million young people have participated in the Exploring program since its founding in 1998. Today, the program serves more than 80,000 current participants via nearly 5,000 posts.
In aviation and beyond, Exploring is always in need of business leaders and organizations to support the cause. Sponsoring organizations benefit from supporting their communities, connecting with potential future employees, and providing professional development opportunities for current employees. In fact, Exploring has even partnered with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to bring more career development opportunities to young people across the country.
“America today is a nation of people without jobs and jobs without people, but the solutions-driven leadership of the business community can make a difference in tackling that challenge,” said Thomas J. Donohue, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Through the Exploring program, the Boy Scouts of America can bring to the table young people who are eager to learn and succeed, and the business community can bring the jobs.”
Anyone looking to learn more about how to get involved can visit www.exploring.org. This online resource includes information for young people as well as organizations looking to volunteer their time and knowledge.
When it comes to helping students define their ideal career path, we know there’s no substitute for real-world workplace experiences. Along with our other programs, we are looking forward to Aviation Exploring taking off in the months ahead. And, whether it’s in aviation or elsewhere, we are proud to help thousands of young people make a smooth ascent into the career of their dreams.