The aviation industry is facing a shortage of mechanics, and the problem is expected to get worse in the years to come.
A surge of retirements among people born from 1946 to 1964, combined with a slowdown in immigration during the pandemic, has created a shortfall of workers across a range of industries, but aviation has been particularly hard hit because due to an aging workforce. Only around 27% of current aircraft mechanics are under 30, while more than 49% are over 40. Additionally, declining interest in technical careers among Generation Z and a lack of recruitment efforts aimed at younger people are contributing to the problem.
“Everybody’s getting ready to retire, and not enough people are coming in to take the jobs,” Mike Myers, a maintenance manager for Piedmont Airlines, told the Associated Press.
The shortage of qualified workers is creating challenges for airlines, plane manufacturers, and repair shops alike. Many existing mechanics are retiring, and demand for air travel is rising.
Because the problem is not unique to aviation, and other industries experiencing similar issues filling vacancies for skilled workers, some employers are offering perks like financial aid for young people, training, and scholarships to attract new hires. Others are changing their workplace culture to make it more appealing to underrepresented groups, including women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community.
For its part, the aviation industry is becoming increasingly innovative in solutions for training, including immersive technologies, adaptive learning, and mixed reality.
Industry analysts predict that the industry needs a steady pipeline of newly qualified personnel to replace retiring workers. To that end, companies are encouraged to pursue a diverse talent pipeline through educational outreach and recruitment, develop new aviation career pathways, invest in early-career learning opportunities, and adopt more efficient learning methods.
Ultimately, resolving the aviation mechanic shortage requires a coordinated effort from aviation leaders, educators, policymakers, and industry associations to attract young people and open up new career pathways in aviation.
The construction and aviation maintenance industries are also facing another challenge: fewer young people want blue-collar jobs. The result is an economy short of factory workers, backhoe operators, welders, electricians, and other skilled trade workers.
Without more workers, further flight delays and other operational difficulties could arise, potentially leading to a negative impact on the industry and the economy as a whole.