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Kentucky receives FAA grant to help prepare high school students for careers aviation industry

As the U.S braces for an anticipated national aircraft pilot shortage, the Commonwealth has been awarded federal funding to support a new initiative that will help prepare Kentucky high school students to become aircraft pilots, aerospace engineers or develop skills in the operation of unmanned aircraft systems.

This week, the Education and Labor Cabinet’s Department for Workforce Development received a $500,000 FAA Aircraft Pilot Workforce Development Grant, which will be administered by the Office of Employer and Apprenticeship Services (OEAS) as the KY Aviation Experience Requires Opportunity (KY-AERO) grant.

“While we continue to see record economic investment and job creation in the commonwealth, we remain committed to ensuring we have a well-trained workforce ready to fulfill both new and existing job opportunities that assure continued economic success,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “Adding this KY-AERO grant to our toolbox of job training and career development opportunities offered to high school students will further support our mission of providing the skills and training needed to fulfill our workforce needs, particularly for high-demand careers like aviation.”

(NKyTribune file)

OEAS will administer the KY-AERO grant in partnership with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association/AOPA Foundation, Inc (AFI). Together, they will develop and deliver a curriculum that will prepare high school students for professional careers in the aviation industry, including classroom and work-based learning opportunities.

“Introducing our students to exciting career opportunities in aviation, while also allowing them to get real-life work experience, will prepare the next generation of pilots and other aviation professionals,” said Education and Labor Cabinet Secretary Jamie Link. “By incorporating this career development path into our public schools, we will heighten awareness and potentially attract underrepresented populations to a historically very homogenous field.”

Diversifying the talent pipeline of the aviation industry has been noted and supported by Kentucky’s Aviation Industry Roundtable (KY-AIR), which is comprised of aviation employers, workforce development practitioners and educational institutions.

“We are excited to partner with education leaders in Kentucky to introduce the rewarding world of aviation to students across the commonwealth,” said AOPA President and CEO Mark Baker. “Building on a track record of creating valuable aviation-based STEM curricula that have engaged, motivated and trained thousands of students, we are ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work to help ensure a bright future for Kentucky’s students and aviation.”

The aviation industry in Kentucky consists of over 400 businesses ranging from small general aviation companies to large multinational logistics operations paving the way to a more interconnected global economy. Training, exposing and securing opportunities for Kentuckians to enter aviation career pathways is important for continued growth. This partnership builds s upon that foundation to create a stronger collaboration system between students, teachers, businesses and government – providing a holistic pathway into aviation careers.

“It is the mission of the Department of Workforce Development to prepare Kentuckians for careers that provide our families with supporting wages and meet the demands of the future,” said Deputy Secretary of the Education and Labor Cabinet and Acting Workforce Development Commissioner Beth Brinly. “This KY-AERO grant will create an exciting and rewarding career path in an industry hungry for new and diverse talent.”

Education and Labor Cabinet

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