Home Career Services Employer Engagement Adds Significant Value to Career College Curricula, Students and Graduates
Employer Engagement Adds Significant Value to Career College Curricula, Students and Graduates

Employer Engagement Adds Significant Value to Career College Curricula, Students and Graduates

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By Jennifer Paugh, President, MIAT College of Technology and John Willis, President, MIAT College of Technology

Employer engagement in career college programs in the United States is critically important to equipping “workplace ready” graduates with skills that are in high demand across many industry sectors. Additionally, keeping abreast of trends and statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and other sources enables career colleges such as MIAT College of Technology to tailor their program offerings to address critical workplace needs. MIAT College of Technology, which has graduated more than 10,000 students in its 50-year history, enjoys excellent relationships with employers across a wide range of industry sectors.

Shortages of qualified and experienced workers are especially problematic in the aviation sector due to the “aging out” of veteran maintenance personnel. Aviation International News reported in an article published in May 2014 that Boeing predicted that aviation maintenance technicians will be in even greater demand than pilots – with as many as 600,000 aircraft mechanics needed by 2031.

MIAT aviation maintenance night students
MIAT aviation maintenance night students participated in a field trip to the United Airlines Engine Shop at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. ©MIAT College of Technology

“The shortage is, in part, a consequence of an aging global population. Between now and 2027, a record number of maintenance technicians will be eligible to retire as more baby boomers reach their sixties. For example, in the US, the median age of aviation mechanics is 51 years old, nine years older than the median age of the broader US workforce as calculated by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.” (Source: Oliver Wyman, Forbes contributor)

For the full article posted on April 24, 2017, please follow this link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/oliverwyman/2017/04/24/looming-aircraft-mechanic-shortage-may-threaten-the-growth-of-the-global-fleet-and-raise-costs/#139ba6384984

Employers in the construction, industrial and manufacturing sectors also are challenged to find qualified welders. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 404,800 welder, cutter, solderer and brazer jobs in 2016, with a 6 percent growth rate anticipated between 2016 and 2026. With wind energy production increasing, the demand for wind technicians is likewise increasing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 5,800 wind turbine technician jobs in 2016 with a 96 percent growth rate anticipated for 2016 through 2026 period.

To gain a competitive edge once career college students graduate and pass all required exams, potential employers who are willing and able to adopt a proactive, early-stage recruiting approach can become involved with career colleges in a variety of strategically beneficial ways. Some of the many opportunities include the following:

  • Participating in curriculum development either formally or informally helps career colleges to shape online and campus-based course offerings as well as hands-on training modules.
  • Lending or donating equipment that can be used as instructional tools proves extremely useful.
  • Hosting site visits and field trips for instructors and students, offering part-time jobs and apprenticeships for students, and engaging as sponsors of job fairs and industry days serve as excellent ways for potential employers to raise their profile among students, faculty and staff.
  • Some companies and industry associations offer scholarships for tuition assistance and other stipends for tools and books.

How Delta, Spirit, United and other Airlines support MIAT College of Technology

With demand for FAA-certified aviation maintenance technicians steadily growing, several airlines are contributing considerable resources to MIAT College of Technology campuses in Michigan and in Texas. Proximity to major aircraft maintenance hubs is mutually beneficial to the Federal Aviation Administration officials and the airline representatives with whom faculty, staff, students and graduates interact on a regular basis. The Canton campus is located only 10.5 miles from Detroit Metropolitan Airport, and the Houston campus is located only 10.9 miles from Bush Intercontinental Airport.

Spirit-Airbus-MIAT Maintenance Simulation Training
Students experience the ability to simulate maintenance events in the Spirit-Airbus-MIAT Maintenance Simulation Training Laboratory. Students learn and master Airbus A320 systems, operation, and troubleshooting best practices. ©MIAT College of Technology

Representatives from several major commercial airlines – Delta, Spirit, and United as well as regional airlines Endeavor Air and SkyWest – have been actively participating in a variety of MIAT programs at the Canton campus and at the Houston campuses for several years. These airlines are adding value to MIAT faculty, staff, students and graduates in a variety of ways, some of which include:

  • Providing guidance as members of Program Advisory Committees at both campuses
  • Complementing MIAT instructors’ lectures and hands-on training as guest instructors
  • Mentoring students
  • Sponsoring and decorating classrooms
  • Lending and/or donating equipment
  • Hosting tours and shadowing opportunities at the airlines’ maintenance facilities
  • Participating in career fairs
  • Development of a tuition grants program for United Airlines employees, their spouses and dependents
    • Currently, 22 individuals are taking advantage of the United grant
  • Hiring MIAT graduates
    • Delta, which formalized a partnership agreement with MIAT’s Canton campus in 2017, has directly hired 19 of MIAT’s recent graduates for entry level Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) mechanic positions since 2016. Spirit, which initiated a relationship with MIAT in 2016, has directly hired 9 MIAT graduates for entry level A&P mechanic positions to date.

Important to note is that these graduates hired directly into entry level technician roles is not typical. The model used by most major airlines is to hire A&P technicians from the regional airlines (such as Endeavor or SkyWest) once they have acquired more on-the-job experience. Typically, the regional airlines hire the entry level technicians; the technician gains experience; and then, the major airlines hire the more experienced technicians. Many more MIAT aviation maintenance graduates are employed by regional airlines, corporate aviation departments, and service providers for Fixed Base Operators (FBOs).

More about the Delta relationship

Delta TechOps
Students in MIAT College of Technology’s Aviation Program study in the Delta TechOps sponsored classroom. MIAT College of Technology has been selected to partner with Delta Airlines to help meet the high demand for Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT) positions. ©MIAT College of Technology

Chris Pipesh, Vice President of Education at MIAT College of Technology’s Canton campus, is the primary liaison with Delta Air Lines and Endeavor Air. Before choosing MIAT as its partner, Delta evaluated several career colleges that offered aviation maintenance technician programs. Pipesh explained that some of the key reasons that Delta chose MIAT as one of its partner schools included proximity to the Delta hub at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, safety protocols that MIAT follows, MIAT’s aviation maintenance course offerings, and the equipment MIAT uses for instruction.

“Delta is extremely involved with our Canton campus. Delta gives our instructors and students access to their hangar at Detroit Metropolitan Airport for observation. Their aviation maintenance staff also serves on our Program Advisory Committee and as guest presenters in our classes. They participate in career fairs and post available jobs. Delta also sponsors a classroom in Canton and donates equipment for use on our campus.” Pipesh said.

Additionally, Delta supports MIAT with its Tech Ops University, an ongoing training program for aviation technicians employed by Delta. Delta has created courses that can be accessed by MIAT instructors and students affiliated with Delta’s partner schools.

“The Tech Ops courses are related to aviation maintenance tasks associated with multiple aircraft types and their systems. Our MIAT students gain access to these training modules to enhance their knowledge. Taking these courses also benefits these students if they apply for a mechanic position after they graduate. Delta and their regional partner, Endeavor Air, have access to the database with names of MIAT students and the Tech Ops modules that they completed. When they evaluate candidates to fill openings for aviation maintenance technicians’ jobs, both companies consider the students’ participation level in the courses offered through Tech Ops University when making hiring decisions,” Pipesh noted.

More about the Spirit relationship

MIAT College of Technology's Canton campus
MIAT College of Technology’s Canton campus, a 125,000 sq. ft. modern facility. ©MIAT College of Technology

MIAT’s Canton campus houses an Airbus A320 maintenance simulator that is owned by Spirit. MIAT is the only career college in the United States that has access to this advanced Airbus simulator.

“About four years ago, Spirit team members approached MIAT and expressed a need for a dedicated classroom that could be used as a maintenance simulator training lab for their technicians. In turn, Spirit representatives offered to train some of our instructors on the use of the maintenance simulator to enhance our students’ training. This is a ‘next-gen’ aviation training opportunity that we are fortunate to be able to provide for our aviation students, which is a huge win for MIAT and our students. Our students become familiar with the A320 and its operating systems, which will greatly enhance their knowledge, skill sets and marketability when they are seeking employment in the aviation industry,” Pipesh explained.

To learn more about the Airbus A320 maintenance simulator, see https://www.airbus.com/aircraft/passenger-aircraft/cockpits.html

In addition, Spirit representatives contribute their insights and experiences to MIAT’s Program Advisory Committee, co-hosts events with MIAT and high school counselors, and sponsors MIAT classrooms in Canton and in Houston with Spirit-banded logos. Delta, Spirit and United also donate equipment and share job postings for MIAT graduates.

The upsides of effective employer engagement

Clearly, the upsides of nurturing and maintaining effective relationships with future employers are many. Together, career colleges and employers are ensuring that people of all ages and in all stages of life are equipped for “high demand,” well-paying jobs within a relatively short period of time – usually within 24 months or fewer. Furthermore, career colleges that focus on serving specific industry sectors can serve as an affordable, easily accessible and highly qualified resource that employers can trust for essential, ongoing skills development for their workers.

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Jennifer Paugh

JENNIFER PAUGH  has been the President of MIAT College of Technology-Michigan in the Detroit metropolitan area since March 2016. Paugh has more than 20 years of experience in career education and training, having served in both faculty and operations leadership positions at colleges in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. She has served in roles of president, dean, operations leader, and faculty member.

Paugh is a member of the MIAT board of directors.



Contact Information: Jennifer Paugh // President // MIAT College of Technology Canton // 800-447-1310 // jpaugh@miat.edu // www.miat.edu // https://www.facebook.com/MIATConnection/ // @miatcollege // https://www.linkedin.com/school/michigan-institute-of-aviation-and-technology/ // https://www.instagram.com/explore/locations/8519021/miat-college-of-technology-canton-mi-campus/?hl=en


John Willis

JOHN WILLIS  is the President of MIAT College of Technology-Texas. The campus is in Houston. Willis also has more than 20 years of leadership experience in career education and training for colleges and institutions in Arizona, Kansas and Texas. He has served in the roles of president, dean, and faculty member.

Willis is a member of the MIAT board of directors.



Contact Information: John Willis //President // MIAT College of Technology Houston // 888-547-7047 // jwillis@miat.edu // www.miat.edu // https://www.facebook.com/MIATConnection2/ // @miatcollege // https://www.linkedin.com/school/michigan-institute-of-aviation-and-technology/ // https://www.instagram.com/explore/locations/8519021/miat-college-of-technology-canton-mi-campus/?hl=en

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