Helicopters Magazine

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Editorial: Forward with Vision

July 5, 2007  By Drew McCarthy

We know about the changing demographics in Canada. By 2011, almost one-fifth of baby boomers will be at least 61 years of age, and nearing retirement.

Despite the efforts of individual companies and organizations such as
the Canadian Aviation Maintenance Council (CAMC), a shortage in the
skilled MRO labour force is having a serious impact on the Canadian
helicopter industry. In fact, some Canadian operations are currently
unable to perform at full capacity because of the situation.

know about the changing demographics in Canada. By 2011, almost
one-fifth of baby boomers will be at least 61 years of age, and nearing
retirement. It’s predicted that by 2008, for every North American
entering the workforce, two will be leaving, and by 2010 there will be
a shortfall of about 10 million workers in the North American labour

An important source of new MRO workers may depend on
immigration. In fact, according to Statistics Canada, it is possible
that immigration could account for virtually all labour force growth in
Canada by the year 2011. Fast-tracking skilled immigrants into the
industry is crucial. One of CAMC’s current initiatives involves helping
newcomers find employment that matches their skills and experience. To
do this, it has established the Prior Learning and Foreign Credential
Assessment and Recognition System (PLFCAR).

Encouraging youth to
choose a career in the MRO sector is also fundamental. CAMC has worked
hard in this area and has been focusing its resources on its youth
internship programs (YIP) as well as gathering important labour market


Last November, CAMC, industry, and the educational
community completed the initial data-gathering stage for the Labour
Market Information System (LMIS) project. CAMC’s LMIS is a Webbased
data-gathering system designed to accurately report the labour market
statistics of Canada’s aviation and aerospace industry. The primary
objective of the LMIS is to increase the efficiency of human resources
policies, practices and planning.

Communication with the
educational community is likewise important. LMIS should help the
education community adjust its own training mandates to reflect the
current market trends (e.g., if training organizations see that there
will be a need for gas turbine technicians in the next few years, they
can increase the number of course seats for that particular training

And, there is some very positive activity taking place
at local levels. An excellent example of innovative thinking is
currently happening in British Columbia. Vancouver-based ACROHELIPRO
Global Service Inc. has joined with the Greater Langley Chamber of
Commerce, Langley School District and University College of the Fraser
Valley in the development of a new apprenticeship program. The program
is designed to find high-school students in the Langley area who are
interested in pursuing careers as aviation structure technicians. The
program involves ACROHELIPRO and three other Langley Airport helicopter
operations, EM Heli- Logistics, Merlin Aviation Services and Pacific
Air Crane.

As part of the program, students are enrolled in
full-time attendance at the University College of the Fraser Valley
Aircraft Structures Technical Training Program. Students will attend
UCFV’s Aerospace Centre at the Abbotsford Airport five days a week from
8 am until 2 pm to learn their new trade.

The Langley School
District will cover one-third of the first-year expenses to offset the
cost of the program to the student. The student is responsible for the
other portion to ensure an ongoing commitment to the program. As the
program continues the Langley School District will continue to cover a
variety of costs incurred by the students.

Students are
responsible for completing the remaining portion of their high-school
education by evening correspondence. However, upon graduation students
will enter into the second year of the three-year Aircraft Structures
Technical Training Program.

In addition to the Langley
initiative, ACROHELIPRO has partnered with the British Columbia
Institute of Technology’s gas turbine overhaul program. Through the
program, ACROHELIPRO will cover 50 per cent of the tuition for six
graduating students who will be offered full-time positions. The
program is the first of its kind to offer repayment of tuition and a
starting point for a successful career. Apprenticeship programs such as
these represent the type of approach that will be instrumental in
solving a problem that is both critical and chronic.


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