For the fourth time, AMT Magazine is celebrating an annual class of Next Gen Award winners – young men and women whose commitment to their work, involvement in the industry, and professional achievement make them worthy examples of the aviation community’s bright future.
As always, this year’s winners include some of the best young talent from organizations connected to ARSA membership:
Henry Locher, AAR Landing Gear
Peter Morelli & Randall Arnold, Airborne Maintenance & Engineering Services
Christian Ludwig, MTU Maintenance
Maarten de Haas, AFI KLM
Keilah Bias, StandardAero
Each year, my colleague Brett Levanto – himself a 2015 Next Gen Honoree – uses ARSA’s space in this edition to celebrate the winners while highlighting things we all can be doing to help brighten the industry’s future for these young technicians and engineers. Brett routinely underscores our shared responsibility to cultivate the very best aviation professionals, give them the tools they need and inspire them to commit to keeping us all safely in flight.
This year, it’s my opportunity to report on what the association and a diverse group of aviation allies are doing to make good on that shared responsibility to recruit and train the next generation of maintenance professionals. A key priority has been passing a piece of legislation through the U.S. Congress proposed by ARSA to provide grants of up to $500,000 to businesses, unions, schools, and governmental entities that collaborate locally to pursue innovative new workforce development initiatives. Our goal is to get the legislation (S. 2506/H.R. 5701) included in the FAA reauthorization bill currently – as of this writing – winding its way through Congress.
Working with a coalition of more than 30 organizations representing maintainers, airlines, manufacturers, general and business aviation, and unions, we’ve convinced 25 senators to cosponsor our workforce bill. Getting one-quarter of the Senate to agree on anything in the current political environment is a major achievement. We’ve been gratified that lawmakers from across the political spectrum recognize how important the aviation maintenance industry is to the national economy, the challenges presented by the aviation skills gap, and the need for Congress to act.
My optimism about our short-term prospects aside, we still have a long way to go. Assuming we’re successful in getting the workforce program included in the final FAA bill (which, depending on when you’re reading this, you might already know), Congress will still have to appropriate money for the program and the FAA will have to work with industry to get it up and running. Then it will be up to aviation leaders across the country to collaborate locally to come up with innovative recruitment and training initiatives.
There’s plenty for all of us to do to make the new program a reality and make it successful, and ARSA’s team will continue its work in Washington. To bring that work home into every community, the association provides tools for aviation professionals to become a personal advocate and professional resource for the maintenance community.
The association’s work is carefully laid out on arsa.org, but there are key places to stop when making a difference:
(1) ARSA’s Workforce Legislation Action Center. An online resource for making a difference and communicating with American elected officials in support of the AMT workforce. (Visit arsa.org/legislative/grant-program-action-center to get active.)
(2) Aerojobs.org. The web-based recruitment tool specifically targets individuals with the skills needed to maintain aircraft (regardless of what industry they’re in now).
(3) AVMRO.arsa.org. The industry’s information portal introduces the world of maintenance, repair, and overhaul. The site has information useful to everyone from job seekers to the media to elected officials to nervous fliers.
(4) Propaganda. “You Can’t Fly Without Us,” a seven-minute documentary on the maintenance industry produced for public television. ARSA provides license for use of the film as an informational or recruitment tool. (Visit arsa.org/documentary to see how you can use the video.)
(5) Training. The association’s growing library of sessions on regulatory compliance, government affairs, legal and business development topics now includes eight hours accepted for IA refresher training. Everything you need to get better at your job and get ready for the next one. (Visit arsa.org/training for course information and to register.)
Thanks to Henry, Peter, Randall, Christian, Maarten, Keilah and all of this year’s honorees for representing the best of the maintenance community. In order to truly celebrate their talent and commitment, let’s commit to the future of the industry and make good on their potential.
Christian A. Klein is the managing member of Obadal, Filler, MacLeod & Klein, P.L.C. overseeing the firm’s policy advocacy practice. He represents trade associations as a registered federal lobbyist and provides strategic communications and legal counsel services to clients. He is executive vice president of the Aeronautical Repair Station Association and a member of the University of Virginia’s adjunct faculty.