SDC2019: Paying It Forward to the Future Business Aviation Workforce
Jan. 28, 2019
As the industry grapples with the challenge of developing tomorrow’s workforce, NBAA’s Schedulers & Dispatchers (S&D) Advisory Council is helping to shape tomorrow’s business aviation professionals.
For the second consecutive year, the group organized a Pay-It-Forward educational initiative prior to the opening of the association’s Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference (SDC2019), which takes place Jan. 29-Feb. 1 in San Antonio, TX. Working with the local school district, it organized a half-day event for students from MacArthur High School in San Antonio, giving 22 potential aviators a chance to learn about all the industry has to offer.
“It’s our way to give back,” said council member Amber Finchum. “There are so many different jobs and careers that exist within our industry that kids don’t even know about. They hear ‘aviation’ and they automatically assume pilots, but an aircraft doesn’t take off without the other jobs and responsibilities behind it, and this is a way to expose these students to the opportunities that exist.”
The event was hosted by Million Air FBO and included personnel from Hallmark University, Merlin, Flight Safety, Cutter Aviation/Texas Piper, Women in Aviation International and Air Culinaire.
Larry Johnson, regional aircraft sales manager with Texas Piper, was the keynote speaker for the event, telling students that he didn’t let his humble beginnings stop him from becoming a pilot and having a career in aviation. “I followed instinct that made my heart happy,” he said.
He urged the students to explore the full range of career opportunities that aviation can offer them; for example, jobs exist not only for pilots but also electronics technicians, interior aircraft designers and much more. “I challenge you guys to list all of the careers that you see in that airplane,” he said “Look at it and see what you come up with – you might be surprised. Don’t just take what’s on the surface.”
Jason Sandoval, a teacher at school who helped organize the event, said it was an opportunity he didn’t want to pass up. “They’re asking a lot of questions, which is good. They are engaged. They are paying attention,” he said. “This will open their eyes and ears to learn more.”
Brian Schmitt, general manager at Million Air San Antonio, said he’s always looking for ways to let young people learn about all aviation offers.
“It’s an opportunity for students to see what goes on in the aviation industry, other than hopping on an airline and taking off,” he said. “This way they get to see the other side of the airport.” His FBO sees 100-200 different types of aircraft, offering a “wow factor” students may not see elsewhere.
Sharon Forbes, a founder of the S&D Committee, said it was good to see not only how the conference has grown in 30 years, but also this added educational component. “There’s a real need in every branch of the flight department,” she said. “I think it’s excellent and it should continue, and I’d like to see the scale get even bigger and bigger.”
Finchum said the council is already planning for next year when the conference heads to Charlotte, NC.
“No matter where we go, there are students, there’s an opportunity to make an impact,” she said. “These are our future aviators, our future professionals and leaders. It’s our responsibility to introduce them to this.”
Dress for Success
In addition to the educational initiative, the Schedulers & Dispatchers Advisory Council also is continuing its annual Pay-It-Forward clothing drive, where attendees and exhibitors can donate suits, dresses, shirts and other business attire for local organizations. An area will be set aside on the SDC2019 exhibit floor to drop off these items.
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