BRCC program filling employment need in aviation sector

When Trevor Farwell, among the first class to complete BRCC’s new aviation maintenance program, posted his résumé online in May, it didn’t take long for the phone to ring. The calls started coming within 24 hours.

“I was sitting in class, and I got a call from Michigan,” Farwell tells Business Report in a feature in the current issue. “I answered, and they said, ‘We’ve got a job for you.’”

The caller was from Kalitta Air, a major cargo airline providing transportation worldwide. The company was on the hunt for aviation technicians and offering a generous deal to get them to Michigan. The starting annual salary would be $42,000, with full benefits, and moving costs were covered.

It was a job opportunity even four-year college graduates struggle to find.

Farwell’s experience speaks to the job demand of a booming aviation industry and to the initial success of BRCC’s aviation maintenance program. The two-year program began in 2015, producing its first batch of five graduates this August. Six more will graduate in the spring. Seven students started this fall.

Interest in the program is growing, says Aviation Department Chair Eric Kallio—not only among students, but also employers.

In 20 years, global airline fleets are expected to expand and modernize rapidly. As a result, Boeing’s 2016 Pilot & Technician Outlook projects demand for technicians over the next two decades will be 679,000 globally and 127,000 in the U.S. A shortage of aviation mechanics is predicted as demand outpaces supply by 2022, Forbes reports.

So the need is there, and the BRCC program is taking advantage of it.

But Kallio sees an even greater purpose for the program down the road.

“I want to be able to say, ‘Look at what we have—a school whose grads are getting snatched up by companies across the country,’” Kallio says. “Right now we’re sending them out, but imagine if we could keep them here. I want to create that bargaining chip, so our airport and business leaders can go to airlines like Southwest and say, ‘You can come here. We have a capable, trained workforce.’”

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