Staying Ahead Of The Pilot Shortage - Lessons From AT&T

I read an article yesterday in CNN Money about AT&T and their struggles in recruiting qualified employees domestically (read the article here).  The general conclusion is that for most positions AT&T is hiring for, they have to interview around eleven candidates before finding the right one.  I found that rather staggering considering the large number of unemployed workers in the market today.  The problem AT&T is facing is very similar to a problem the aviation industry is going to face with the looming pilot shortage… a lack of qualified workers with the needed skill set.  

To combat this, AT&T has implemented a job-shadowing program to spur high school student’s interest in fields they consistently need to hire for.   Essentially a high school student will spend a few days shadowing different professionals inside AT&T’s business, exposing them to what goes on behind the scenes.  This has worked extremely well as an outreach tool for the company and is a tool that should be considered for use in the aviation industry.  According to a Junior Achievement study cited in the aformention article, 8 of 10 students who go through a job-shadowing program are more likely to graduate than their peers. 

Aside from pilot shortage, pilot recruitment is also a concern for many universities and organizations.  Recently at an industry conference, Jim Gorman V.P. of Flight Standards at FedEx, stated that his company has begun recruiting efforts at the middle and high school levels to get students interested in flying.  Job-shadowing is a tool that could be used to achieve better results with this demographic.  How cool would it be for a high school student to hang out with pilots for a few days and see the cockpit of a Boeing 747 or work on the line with the mechanics taking apart a turbine engine? 

Job-shadowing programs would stand to benefit the training organizations and the companies hiring pilots, so why not have the two work together to implement a tool to combat both the pilot shortage and pilot recruitment problems of the very near future?