Governor JB Pritzker on Wednesday announced the opening of a new aviation training center in the southwest, calling it a “powerful step” towards educating and employing people from under-represented communities and their integration into the industry.
“Our long-term economic success as a state depends on our investment in the next generation who will soon take on the task of leading our most important industries,” Pritzker said on Wednesday afternoon.
Pritzker was joined in the announcement by U.S. Representative Marie Newman and other city, state and industry officials at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance’s new training facility at 3711 S. Ashland in the McKinley Park neighborhood.
The institute will offer Federal Aviation Association certified maintenance training with courses starting for 40 students on September 27. Plans call for the enrollment of 200 students next year.
Located in a former warehouse, the 137,000 square foot Aviation Institute of Maintenance facility includes a hangar, 17 classrooms, administrative offices and a laboratory to learn about avionics – the electronics applied to the aviation industry.
Deemed to be the “institute’s largest training program in the country,” the facility is partnering with the City Colleges of Chicago on a credit-sharing agreement and will also work with Southern Illinois University’s School of Aviation to assist students. institution to obtain a bachelor’s degree. after completing the aviation training program.
The institute also plans to partner with Olive-Harvey College to allow high school students to take four general courses that can be transferred into an institute’s program focused on the exterior and engine of an airplane. The aviation institute also plans to make other agreements with colleges and universities in Illinois to “boost the recruitment of minority students,” according to a press release on the training center.
Pritzker and others who appeared at Wednesday’s Ribbon Cutting spoke of the long-term effect the training center could have, such as a paid job around $ 72,000 a year – according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics – in an industry that is expected to create 4,300 jobs over the next decade, growing “at a much faster rate than the US average,” Pritzker said.
“By allowing a diverse and talented group of professionals to step in, we can ensure that our businesses and institutions here in Illinois continue to grow, innovate and prosper in the future,” said Pritzker. “This includes in particular our airline, aircraft and transportation industries. “
John Holmes, CEO of aviation services provider AAR, said the aerospace industry is likely to need more than 130,000 new maintenance technicians in North America and more than 600,000 globally over the “next few years.” .
As the largest maintenance, repair and overhaul company in North America and third in the world, “we feel this talent shortage every day,” said Holmes.
“Students can continue their studies here at [Aviation Institute of Maintenance] to achieve more advanced certifications and ultimately, after graduation, AAR – among other great companies like United, Southwest Boeing and others – will look forward to hiring them into long-standing, well-paid and rewarding careers. sustainability in aviation, ”said Holmes.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who did not attend the announcement in person, said in a statement that “connecting our residents to stable, well-paid and meaningful careers in growing industries is a critical part of our strategy for post-pandemic economic recovery. ”
“I am pleased to see the Aviation Institute of Maintenance supporting this goal by expanding its presence and educational resources in our underserved neighborhoods,” said Lightfoot. “Chicago’s airports have long been known to be world-class, and this new campus will provide residents with a gateway to participate in this splendor through exciting education and employment opportunities.