Aviation Mechanics Need To Be Interested Early Down Under

Technician recruitment is a challenge impacting all parts of the world. This is very much the case in Australia, a country where MRO providers are looking at the tips and traps for recruiting new aviation mechanics.

For example, Denise Dunn is head of department for senior schooling and partnerships at Aviation High School. “We are a standard high school which attracts students interested in this occupation,” Dunn explains. “Those interested students then do a course with Aviation Australia, off campus from the school.”

Students take this course for one day a week in grades 11 and 12, the rest of the time attending standard high-school classes in Math, English and other subjects. At the end of two years they get a certificate II in line maintenance. 
“This gives them hand skills and other skills,” Dunn explains.

Students can then go on to a regular training organization and, after a year or year-and-a-half, get a certificate IV in maintenance and apply for an apprenticeship with an airline. Once they have finished their apprenticeships, they are eligible for a license.

Dunn says she has had up to 20 students per year enter the maintenance course, but the count has declined in the last couple of years. “Lots of kids in grades 7, 8, 9 and 10 are interested, but we have to find a way to get to them earlier.”

So an ex-Royal Air Force engineer has started a club that meets after schools on Wednesday. The students watch the engineer work on a Cessna in a nearby hangar, getting a feel for what mechanics do. “The need the work experience so they can go, Wow,” Dunn says. “We need to build awareness earlier.” She is trying to raise funds for another aircraft.

Mechanic compensation is attractive as this is one of the better-paying jobs in Australia. But a lot of Australian aircraft maintenance is going offshore, and Dunn says most Australian students would prefer to stay home. “Going offshore may frighten them a little.”