March 15, 2023

Employers Shopping for Aviation Graduates

Phil Lightstone

Employers Shopping for Aviation Graduates

– By: Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter 

Thunder Bay, Ont. — Students in the Confederation College School of Aviation welcomed 14 aviation employers to their school hangar on Monday evening to learn about the job opportunities available to them.  Like many industries, the aviation sector is faced with staffing shortages.

According to a report by the Canadian Council for Aviation and Aerospace, by 2025 the industry will require 7,300 new pilots, 5,300 aircraft maintenance engineers and thousands of aviation technicians. Matt Bunn, associate dean for the Confederation College School of Aviation, called the trade fair “definitely new.”

“The industry is changing,” Bunn said. “The employers are having a hard time filling the job needs. Typically in the past, students would graduate here and deliver their resumes everywhere and try and get a job. Now employers are coming to the school to try and convince students to come work for them. Isn’t that something?”

Bunn explained there are two programs within the aviation school. The two-year aviation technician – aircraft maintenance co-op diploma program trains students for the Transport Canada Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (AME) licence. Successful graduates receive up to 21 months credit (almost half) of their apprenticeship time toward their aircraft maintenance engineer’s category M licence requirements. The program accommodates 54 students but is struggling to fill it to capacity.

Visarg Solanki, an international student from India, is about to graduate from the aviation technician/maintenance program and as of Monday’s career fair, he has two solid job offers in his pocket.

“The program is fantastic,” Solanki said. “You get hands-on experience for what you will do after graduation. You learn through a co-op program between first and second year so you can go into the actual industry and work on the aircraft and see how it’s done.”

In the two-year aviation-flight management program, students are already in the air during their first semester of school. Successful graduates receive preparation for both a private and commercial pilot licence, including training with the school’s fleet of 13 aircraft, advanced simulators, and ground school. This program accommodates 65 students and is always filled, Bunn said. “Once they get their commercial pilot’s licence, they’re legally allowed to work as a pilot in Canada,” he said.

George Diwan is finishing his fifth semester in the aviation flight management program and is also about to graduate. “I spoke to the different companies, took their cards and looked at different routes to take in order to achieve my goals of flying, whether it’s a float (plane) up north or maybe a pathway to Air Canada,” he said.  “They did take some of our resumes and they do require about 250 hours (of flying) with the International Air Transport Association (IATA), of which we will have around 200 hours when graduating from here. So there will be a bridge to cross whether I will be instructing or maybe possibly working for another company until we achieve those numbers that are required.” Diwan described the course as “phenomenal and very challenging at some points.”

Employers attending the job fair included Westjet, Jazz Aviation LP, Wasaya Airways, Thunder Bay Aviation Ltd, Superior Airways Ltd, Royal Canadian Air Force, Flying Colours Corp, North Star Air, IMP Group Ltd., Perimeter Aviation, Air Tindi, Air Bravo Corp, Northwestern Ontario Aviation Heritage Centre, and Snap On Industrial. Employers are looking to fill dock hand, ramp staff, flight attendant, and customer service agent positions.

(Image: Scott Hobbs)