May 6, 2021

Attracting and retaining a more diverse workforce will benefit all of aviation, but this effort will require a commitment from the entire community to raise awareness of the industry’s career potential to a broader audience, NBAA Senior Vice President, Education, Training and Workforce Development Jo Damato, CAM, said during a recent FAA webcast.

“Whether you are with the FAA, in business aviation or with an airline, we are all aviation professionals and I firmly believe that we all should be in recruiting mode 100% of the time,” Damato said during a Zoom event hosted by FAA Southwest Regional Administrator Rob Lowe. “If we are smart about it and if enough of us reach out, we could generate an interest in aviation rich enough that not only will we fill the seats that we desperately need to fill, we also will make a correlation to aviation for those interested in other careers.”

This effort must embrace diversity and inclusion, and involve communities underrepresented in aviation, noted Damato. “We can raise awareness of aviation by getting away from visiting the same schools and talking to the same groups of people,” she said. “Let’s change the landscape and talk with communities that don’t even think that aviation is an opportunity for them.”

A more diverse workforce would introduce the innovation required to ensure aviation’s continued success, Damato said. “Diversity of thought can lead to better success for a company and an industry. It certainly leads to better safety and it can create an environment of psychological safety that will make people want to stay in aviation whom we otherwise would lose to other industries,” she noted.

It will take time for aviation’s workforce to reflect this commitment to diversity and inclusion, but the industry is at a critical juncture to ensure that its effort is rewarded, Damato noted.

“The fact that we are talking about awareness is really important. By providing people that ‘see it, be it’ moment where they can see themselves represented in the aviation community, we will be able to build a desire to know more about this incredible and fulfilling industry,” she said. “I hope that in 20 years, our community will look a lot different because of the work we are doing now to build awareness and make change happen.”