Building Tomorrow's Aerospace Workforce: Guest Post from Tim Komberec, Empire Airlines
We at Empire Airlines are very appreciative of the hard work the folks at Idaho PTECH Network are doing to prepare students for careers not only in the Aerospace Industry but also other important industries such as Healthcare and Technology.
PTECH offers a pathway to focus students and develop their abilities to fulfill the high demands of the Aerospace Industry growth in Idaho. These skills that are required are demanding, hold great responsibility and are very rewarding. Unfortunately, the availability of Aerospace workers is at a premium, and Empire often has to go out of the area to fill key technical positions.
Idaho’s investment in aerospace education pays off in employment. According to the most recent data from the Idaho Department of Labor (2012), the Idaho aerospace industry directly employs 2,200 workers from over 200 companies, including 37 suppliers to Boeing. Jobs in the aerospace industry are projected to grow by 21.5 percent from 2012 to 2022, and entry-level positions will pay approximately $12-$16 per hour.
Given that the Aerospace manufacturing industry is critical to the regional economy, the continuing preparation and development of workers (such as what PTECH does) helps ensure these jobs stay in the area and the workforce continues to grow. In addition to candidates having an A&P (Airframe and Powerplant license) Empire also looks for skills in areas such as: non-destructive testing, composites, sheet metal fabrication and repair, general maintenance, and quality inspection. We also need workers with computer skills, design skills, and experience with "lean" manufacturing principles. If that isn’t enough, today’s aerospace workers also need to possess “soft skills” like collaboration, critical thinking / problem solving in a group, time management as well as an overall positive attitude. These are many of the skills that the PTECH students learn about throughout their program, both with their PTECH coach and through on-the-job internships, job shadows and company tours.
In addition to guiding students through dual credit courses while in high school and then assisting the with the transition to community college, the Idaho PTECH Network provides experiential learning opportunities for students, like the Aerospace Camp happening July 13-24 at NIC. This camp is an excellent opportunity for high school students to not only gain valuable lab experience at NIC's Aerospace Center of Excellence, and they will earn academic credit in the process, all while enjoying campus life (staying in the dorms, participating in outdoor activities, etc.).
We at Empire very much look forward to continuing our partnership with Idaho PTECH as they advance students through the program. We value the work they're doing to put students on a path to well-paying careers in Idaho. The partnership is also a way to ensure the continued viability and growth of the Idaho Aerospace industry.
Tim Komberec, President/CEO