Aircraft Structures instructor Dave Nilson works with students (left to right) RIver Olsen, Corey McBeath and Isaac Klahm on an end-of-term project. Image provided

Vancouver Island aircraft structure grads in high demand

1,400 job openings for aircraft mechanics and inspectors by 2028: BC Labour Market Outlook

Graduates of North Island College’s Aircraft Structures Technician (AME-S) program are ready to take advantage of a sector that is hungry for new talent.

“The rate of retirement in the industry is higher than the number of people coming in,” said David Nilson, NIC Aircraft Structures Technician instructor. “Demand for qualified employees is far exceeding supply.”

NIC’s AME-S program is Transport Canada-approved and provides students the training and technical tests required for the Aircraft Maintenance Engineer – Structures (AME-S) licence.

“We study the theory of flight, aircraft systems, construction and regulations,” said Nilson. “It gives students a really well-rounded foundation for aircraft repair.”

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The program theory is combined with 1,150 hours of shop time and hands-on experience working with aircraft sheet metal, as well as tubular, composite, wood and fabric structures.

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“It’s common for our grads to get snapped up by firms across the province,” said Nilson.

2019 graduate Corey McBeath was looking for a career change when he learned about the Aircraft Structures program.

“I have always found flying and aircraft very interesting and complex,” he said. “The need for precision is a key element and I think it transfers into every other job or activity you pursue in life.”

McBeath said he hopes to use the skills he learned in the program to one day run his own aircraft maintenance business.

“You gain a lot of skills: metalworking, woodworking, welding, that kind of stuff,” he said. “There are so many skills you can take out of it and use your whole life.”

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According to the 2018 BC Labour Market Outlook, there will be 1,400 job openings for aircraft mechanics and inspectors by 2028.

Of those positions, 742 are expected to be filled by workers aged 19-29 with public post-secondary education.

The next intake for the AME-S program starts in September. Visit www.nic.bc.ca/trades for more information.

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