AOPA and Choose Aerospace to Partner on Aviation Education, Workforce Development

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Foundation and Choose Aerospace signed an agreement to establish a formal collaboration on their aviation education and workforce pipeline initiatives.

The parties will collaborate to “identify curriculum alignment, jointly promote each other’s educational materials, and pursue grant funding opportunities related to aviation,” according to the memorandum of understanding. The organizations hope that efforts to share ideas, best practices, and training resources will help both to meet the ongoing and increasing demand for pilots and mechanics.

Key elements from the MOU, signed October 5, include review of curriculum benchmarks and competencies between the AOPA Foundation High School Aviation STEM Curriculum and the Choose Aerospace Aviation Maintenance Curriculum; cross-promotion of the curriculum and materials through websites, newsletters, social media, and joint presentations to schools/districts and industry events; and exploration of grant funding proposals related to K-12 aviation education.

Recent data distributed by Boeing Co. forecasts the need for 649,000 pilots, 690,000 technicians, and 938,000 cabin crewmembers over the next 20 years according to the Pilot and Technician Outlook 2023-2042. Domestic air travel has returned to pre-pandemic levels, and international travel is expected to return by 2024. Meanwhile, new sectors such as advanced air mobility are emerging and will demand a highly skilled workforce.

The AOPA Foundation and Choose Aerospace play key roles in helping industry meet this this workforce demand, providing education, training, and employment pathways in the communities they serve.

“This agreement allows the AOPA Foundation and Choose Aerospace to collaborate more closely,” said Glenn Ponas, AOPA Foundation director of high school outreach. “Together, we will be able to provide our respective curricula and resources to school districts and career technical centers and support them in creating pathways to careers as pilots, drone pilots, and aviation maintenance technicians.”

The AOPA Foundation is the philanthropic arm of AOPA, and the collaboration with Choose Aerospace is the first of multiple efforts from the AOPA Foundation to document and coordinate aviation programs and resources. By working to reduce the duplication of efforts and provide educators with a comprehensive set of tools, the AOPA Foundation is attempting to build robust aviation programs that can meet both student needs and fill regional and aviation and aerospace workforce demands.

“Aviation industry stakeholders recognize the need to invest resources and collaborate as part of developing a sustainable, diverse workforce,” said Ryan Goertzen, Vice President Workforce Development at AAR Corp and President of Choose Aerospace. “The Choose Aerospace-AOPA Foundation partnership will help both organizations maximize their already-productive efforts to feed aerospace’s workforce pipeline.”

Choose Aerospace is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit partnership of aerospace stakeholders joined together to increase the availability of a diverse, qualified, technical workforce to support industry growth. The Choose Aerospace two-year aviation maintenance technician general prep course complements the AOPA Foundation drone and pilot pathways, enabling districts who participate to create direct pathways to three in-demand aviation careers.

The partnership will be introduced at the first AOPA Aviation and Aerospace Workforce Development Summit, which will be hosted at the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport on November 12. The AOPA You Can Fly High School Aviation STEM Symposium will follow the summit, hosted November 12 through 14. Both events are open to organizations that offer high school aviation curricula and resources.

Register for the summit here.

Register for the symposium here.