New Aviation Training Center Prepares Wichita's Future Workforce
Air Capital of the World isn’t just a ceremonial title for Wichita. The aviation industry employs more than 40,000 people throughout Kansas, and more than 140,000 additional jobs are supported directly or indirectly by the aviation industry.
Of those workers, 27 percent became eligible for retirement in 2008, and 40 percent are eligible for retirement sometime between 2008 and 2013. To address the worker shortage that could result, government agencies and industry are partnering to establish the National Center for Aviation Training at Jabara Airport.
“The dynamics of the workforce are such that there’s always going to be a requirement for people with technical skills, and that means people who know how to build airplanes, work on airplanes,” says Doug Oliver, spokesperson for Cessna, who is a partner in the center’s development. “The intention of this facility really is to be a national center of excellence where people will come from all over the country to attend.”
The center will provide training in aviation disciplines such as manufacturing, avionics, robotics, interiors installation and others. Wichita Area Technical College will coordinate the programs, which will accommodate 500 students in aviation and 800 students in manufacturing.
“All the experts know that business aviation comes in cycles, and we’re due for an up cycle, and normally when it comes back, it comes back very strong,” Oliver says. “We are very lucky here in this region to have industry leaders and government leaders who see the value in maintaining world-class educational facilities for things like aerospace.”