Sens. Kelly, Fischer Re-Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Boost Aviation Workforce with Investment in Development, Training Programs

United States Senators Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Deb Fischer (R-NE) re-introduced the Aviation Workforce, Opportunity, Recruiting, Knowledge, and Supply (Aviation WORKS) Act, bipartisan legislation which would strengthen aviation and aerospace workforce pipelines by boosting investments in aviation workforce outreach, skills training, and development programs. 

In addition to expanding existing pilot and aviation maintenance technician workforce programs, the bipartisan Aviation WORKS Act would invest in aviation manufacturing workforce development and support partnerships between employers, labor unions, and other community stakeholders to better connect job seekers with training and employers. 

“Arizona’s aviation industry fuels economic growth across our state but we’ve still got more work to do when it comes to filling these great-paying jobs. Our bipartisan legislation will invest in the training needed to tackle aviation workforce shortages while also strengthening the pipeline of Arizona talent to meet industry needs now and in the future,” said Senator Kelly. 

“It’s not just that there is a shortage of pilots. Across Nebraska, I’ve heard from airports and aviation partners who are struggling to find mechanics and other technical maintenance staff. Our Aviation WORKS Act will expand FAA workforce grants, which will help more people access high-skill careers in aviation and earn good-paying jobs,” said Senator Fischer.

“Having a skilled and well-prepared pool of workers is critical to the future success of the aviation industry,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. “As the owner of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, the City of Phoenix is grateful to Senator Kelly for his leadership in championing this bipartisan effort to help solve some of the workforce challenges facing our airline and aviation manufacturing partners.”

“The aviation and general manufacturing sectors are incredibly important to our nation’s economy. Aviation alone amounts to more than 5 percent of our GDP,” said Pima Community College Chancellor and CEO Lee Lambert. “We applaud Senator Kelly’s leadership and support for the community colleges who train workers for the future of these industries.”

While the aerospace and defense industry supports nearly 2 million jobs across the United States, more than 1.2 million new pilots and maintenance technicians will be needed to support the global commercial fleet over the next two decades. Kelly and Fischer’s Aviation WORKS Act will tackle the aviation workforce shortage by:

Boosting Workforce Development Funding: The Aviation WORKS Act would quadruple funding for the Aviation Workforce Development Program from $5 million to $20 million. This program currently supports competitive grants to strengthen the workforce pipeline for pilots and maintenance technicians. 

Creating More Avenues for Aviation Careers: The Aviation WORKS Act would establish two additional grant programs: 

  • An aviation manufacturing workforce development program to support aviation manufacturers and institutions of higher education in expanding skills training and education opportunities; and 
  • A sector-based grant program that would create partnerships between employers, labor unions, institutions of higher education, and other community stakeholders to better connect workers with training and employers. By working together across the aviation industry, new and previous grant recipients will be able to expand the reach of their programs through increased community outreach and marketing, improved recruitment and retention services, and better coordination among education programs and employers to ensure new employees are job-ready on day one.