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March 07, 2018

Inhofe, Blumenthal, Moran, Cantwell Introduce Aviation Maintenance Workforce Development Pilot Program

Senators Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) introduced the Aviation Maintenance Workforce Development Pilot Program today, bipartisan legislation that will help close the skills gap and fill aviation maintenance jobs.

“Our aviation industry needs skilled workers and the aviation maintenance industry provides high-paying, high-skilled jobs across the country,” Sen. Inhofe said. “Aviation is an economic multiplier, connecting local communities and cities in support of commercial activity and generating tourism revenue. We can’t afford to let these skilled jobs go unfilled. This bill will make it possible to close the skills gap by incentivizing businesses, labor groups, educational institutions and local governments to develop innovative ways to recruit and educate the next generation of America’s aviation workforce.”

“This commonsense bipartisan bill is a win-win for Connecticut companies and Connecticut jobs,” said Sen. Blumenthal. “The measure establishes federal grants that will support Connecticut employers in our state’s aviation sector, aiding recruitment and retention of technical workers to address the chronic skills gap in the aviation maintenance industry.”

"The aviation maintenance industry contributes $44 billion to our economy, but is struggling from a severe shortage of skilled workers,” said Sen. Moran. “Our legislation would encourage collaboration between public and private entities to issue grants to support technical education and career development on a local level. Our aviation industry is only as strong as its workforce – incentivizing people across America to pursue technical careers in this field will help fill good-paying jobs.”

“Across the country, there is a severe shortage of workers with the skills to repair airplanes,” Sen. Cantwell said. “These good-paying jobs are essential to keep Washington state at the forefront of the 21st century commercial aviation industry. This bill will create and expand training programs, like the one at Everett Community College, to skill Washingtonians to meet the needs of our state’s industry-leading aerospace businesses.”

The legislation was overwhelmingly praised by the aviation industry:

“We’re extremely grateful that Senators Inhofe, Blumenthal, Moran, and Cantwell have taken up this cause,” said Christian A. Klein, executive vice president of the Aeronautical Repair Station Association.  “If there’s one issue keeping our members awake at night, it’s where to find the next generation of technical talent.  This bill is an important step in the right direction.  It will incentivize local cooperation to develop new aerospace professionals and help veterans and others transition to careers in this high-tech, growing sector.”

“The National League of Cities thanks Senators Inhofe, Blumenthal, Moran and Cantwell for their bipartisan leadership on this important piece of workforce legislation,” said National League of Cities President Mayor Mark Stodola of Little Rock, Arkansas. “We must close the gap between supply and demand across all infrastructure sectors to ensure our citizens are prepared for high quality jobs that provide critical services to our communities. The skill sets for aviation maintenance are vital to the economic vitality of cities across America.” The National League of Cities also sent a letter of support for the legislation. View here.

"AAR welcomes and strongly supports the measure introduced by Senator Inhofe,” said David Storch, chairman and CEO of AAR. “As the largest independent employer of aviation maintenance technicians in the United States, we are all too familiar with the challenges the aviation maintenance industry faces in hiring skilled workers. This measure will help us begin training the additional employees that we need and can put to work immediately in our facilities in Oklahoma City, OK, Miami, FL, Rockford, IL, Indianapolis, IN, and Duluth, MN. We appreciate Senator Inhofe's leadership on this issue."

“Developing an aviation maintenance workforce pilot program is essential to maintaining a pipeline of well-trained and knowledgeable aviation maintenance technicians who can sustain this vital work for our industry,” said David Seymour, Senior Vice President of Integrated Operations at American Airlines. “American Airlines is proud to support Senator Inhofe’s bill, and we look forward to partnering with businesses and educational institutions as the program develops.”

“A skilled workforce is essential to the success of Oklahoma’s aerospace community,” said Meredith Siegfried Madden, CEO of NORDAM. “NORDAM supports Sen. Inhofe and his effort to enhance aviation-maintenance education in our state, which will provide opportunity for workers, businesses and communities alike."

“Serving the needs of the nation’s aviation industry for ninety years, Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology supports Senator Inhofe’s legislation to establish an Aviation Maintenance Workforce Development Pilot Program,” said Dr. Dan Peterson, president and CEO of Spartan College. “There is a global demand for well-qualified aviation technicians. To keep pace, this bill will afford service providers the opportunity to develop innovative new training programs and provide vital financial support to those seeking career employment in the field of aviation maintenance."

“The Aviation Maintenance Workforce Development Pilot Program represents an important step forward for America’s aerospace industry,” said David Silver, Vice President, Civil Aviation for the Aerospace Industries Association. “Today’s success is built on our 2.4 million employees.  We must maintain that strength for the future. This legislation, by focusing on technical acumen, promotes the workforce of tomorrow and solidifies the foundation of our nation’s security and prosperity.”

Additionally, 17 additional professional organizations in the aviation industry also support the Aviation Workforce Development Pilot Program, writing in part: “The U.S. aviation industry is a diamond in the crown of our economy. Working together, manufacturers, operators, maintainers, labor organizations, schools, and workers have built an industry that provides unprecedented mobility for people and goods. Your legislation will help ensure our member organizations have the technical professionals they need to grow, compete globally, and, most importantly, continue to ensure the safety of civil aviation aircraft.” Read the full letter here.

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