Business Aviation Insider

One solution to the aviation personnel shortage is to tap the potential of at-risk youth.


Sean Tucker

By now, virtually everyone is aware of aviation’s work-force challenges. Aerobatic champion Sean D. Tucker is offering one solution that some people may not have thought of: tap the potential of at-risk youth.

The Bob Hoover Academy, which Tucker co-founded, is a non-profit that strives to create opportunities that inspire at-risk and underserved teens to get engaged in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) education and pursue careers in aviation.

“I co-founded the academy for a whole population that is lost and has not even had the opportunity to dream,” explained Tucker. “What we are doing through the metaphor of flying is creating a high school track for them, so they can actually graduate. We start by giving them hope, building up their self-esteem. They need someone to believe in them. When you show them a pathway, and you tell them we’re not going to give up on you, they won’t give up on themselves.”

Tucker’s message to young people about why aviation is a great career choice is simple: “There is no better time than now to invest in an aviation future. You can get a student loan, and you will be able to pay it off because there will be a job at the end of that training, and not just an entry-level job. You are going to be able to support your family, buy a house and send your kids to college.”

It is incumbent on aviation’s leaders to come up with a comprehensive workforce plan, asserts Tucker. “Just like when we all got together to fight ATC privatization, we
have to do the same [for the workforce challenge].”

“Every aviation group has to spread the message: If you are a youth in America, there are magnificent opportunities for you in aviation.”