Airlines Desperate for Airplane Mechanics

Airplane Mechanics
Airplane mechanics working on an engine | Image by aappp/Shutterstock

Bucking the growing trend of layoffs seen in tech companies, airlines are on a hiring frenzy.

Confronted with a diminished workforce due to upcoming retirements, the airline industry is in serious need of aviation mechanics.

With more than one-third of mechanics employed in the airline industry between ages 55 and 64, a massive wave of retirements is about to take place.

“Everybody’s getting ready to retire, and not enough people are coming in to take the jobs,” Mike Myers, a maintenance manager for Piedmont Airlines, told AP News.

Those who are newly entering the field are getting jobs thrown at them, as 21-year-old Will Gower explained, according to AP News. He recently graduated from the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics and had multiple job offers with very competitive salaries to choose from.

“It was almost overwhelming,” Gower said. “Anywhere there’s an airport you can go work.”

The airline industry is also soon expected to see a wave of pilot retirements, as The Dallas Express reported. Some in the industry predict a crushing pilot shortage for smaller carriers since industry giants usually hire from regional airlines.

Airline jobs are surging ahead of what is expected to be a big summer travel season. Across the industry, the aviation workforce has grown by 9% year over year, or triple the rate of hiring across the U.S. overall, according to AP News.

United Airlines is in “hiring mode,” as Kate Gebo, United’s executive vice president of human resources, explained, per AP News. The company plans to have hired 15,000 new workers by the end of the year.

Yet several sectors of the airline industry are struggling not just with attracting new talent but with having a pipeline of new workers to lure in the first place.

For pilots, the high costs associated with training and an outdated curriculum are some potential reasons behind this shortage, as The Dallas Express reported.

But more broadly, certain jobs in aviation such as maintenance have been perceived as blue-collar work, which young generations reportedly don’t view as favorably as the older ones did.

Anirban Basu, chief economist for the Associated Builders and Contractors trade group, told AP News that after the baby boomers, a shift occurred, and people no longer considered blue-collar work “a solid and secure path to prosperity.” Instead, having a bachelor’s degree seemed necessary for success.

For this reason, as the aging workforce exits the job market, employers are grappling with labor shortages not only in aviation but also in construction, manufacturing, nursing, and accounting.

To counter this, there have been several initiatives to shore up these industries by creating new pipelines for workers.

For instance, a new aviation program was just made possible at Texas Woman’s University through a $15 million charitable donation, as The Dallas Express reported.

Some carriers, like Piedmont Airlines, are offering young people incentivizing scholarship programs. In exchange for paying their tuition fees, they must work a certain number of years at the company after graduation.

In the case of aviation mechanics, Piedmont Airlines even gives students a $6,500 toolbox, Myers told AP News.

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