June 10, 2021

A Department of Transportation task force is working to come up with strategies that facilitate and encourage students and young people to pursue a career in aviation or aerospace, and NBAA’s Jo Damato is an integral part of that effort.

Damato, the association’s senior vice president of education, training and workforce development, is on the Expanded Pathways subcommittee and participated this week in the third public meeting of the Youth Access to American Jobs in Aviation Task Force (YIATF).

“We need a one-stop-shop for aviation career information,” said Damato, CAM, at the meeting. ”It’s essential that we make this information accessible to everyone that can use it, including students, parents, teachers, career counselors, neighbors – everyone.”

Currently, noted Damato, information about aviation careers is not only fragmented throughout the industry, but frequently awareness about such information is often lacking – especially for youth from underrepresented communities.

According to Damato and her task force colleagues, there is a need to continue tracking individuals who are already in the aviation pipeline, to keep them abreast of career opportunities and to encourage them to stick with aviation and keep them motivated. “For example, there are lots of female student pilots, but the more ratings they pursue, the fewer there are,” said Damato,

One idea from the subcommittee is the creation of a “virtual counselor” program that connects a student or young person with more information and resources in their aviation area of interest. The ability to engage online would have worked well during the pandemic and obviates the need to travel to a job fair.

A nationally approved curriculum leading to industry-recognized credentials for high school students is another focus, so students can train anywhere and give them a career head start after high school. The task force also discussed the concept of an aviation academy program for teachers, which would get them enthused about aviation and then share the opportunities with their students.

Damato noted that many aviation jobs are ones that people don’t normally think of, like designing aircraft interiors or using culinary arts expertise for in-flight catering.

“There are jobs that we’re not even aware of yet because they are part of emerging technologies such as advanced air mobility and electric propulsion systems,” she said. “Some of these new jobs are still difficult to define. We need to build the foundation now so we can be ready.”