Airbus introduces workforce development programs for Mobile students

Airbus introduces workforce development programs for Mobile students
The FlightPath9 class of 2020 was introduced in a ceremony in Mobile, where two new programs were announced. (Airbus)

Airbus launched two new programs aimed at putting applicants with little or no aviation or aerospace experience in jobs where its A220 and A320 production facilities are located.

The FlightPath9 and Fast Track programs seek to expand Airbus’ production workforce from within the Mobile community.

“These are two great initiatives from Airbus that help build their workforce, but, more importantly, build Alabama’s workforce and put our people onto a path to a wonderful career in a growing and thriving industry,” Gov. Kay Ivey said during a ceremony introducing the first FlightPath9 students.

The FlightPath9 program targets high school seniors with a desire to work in aerospace. It’s directed by Flights Works Alabama, a partnership between the state and Airbus, to encourage young people to explore careers in aviation and aerospace.

“The ideal candidate for FlightPath9 is that student with an aptitude for working with his or her hands, and an interest in working in the aviation industry right out of high school,” said Daryl Taylor, vice president and general manager of the Airbus A320 Manufacturing Facility in Mobile.

“They must be willing and able to participate in a nine-month program, be drug-free, can read, write, do math, be 18 years or older by June 2020, and can adhere to ‘soft’ work skills: show up to work every day and on time, can work in a team with respect for all co-workers, be dedicated, driven and determined.

“Give us that, and we’ll give you a chance at a career,” Taylor said.

For this program, Flight Works Alabama has partnered with Airbus, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU), Cintas, Snap-On Tools, Southwest Alabama Partnership for Training & Employment and the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3).

The nine-month comprehensive learning program involves NC3 Snap-on certifications, ERAU instruction, guest speakers, success coaches and more. The students will attend training after school during their senior year of high school.

This rendering shows what the Airbus A220 assembly facility will look like once it’s completed in Mobile. (Mott MacDonald)

Fast Track program

The students who successfully complete this program have the opportunity to start their careers with Airbus through the second program announced this week, Fast Track.

Fast Track is a 12- to 15-week program that will bring individuals lacking aviation manufacturing experience into the company and give them the skills, knowledge and ability required for an aerospace maintenance career.

Like FlightPath9, ideal candidates for Fast Track must exhibit an aptitude for working with their hands and an interest in working in the aviation industry. They must be drug-free; able to read, write and do basic math; be at least 18 years old and be able to exhibit job experience and the needed “soft skills.”

“In turn, we’ll teach and measure these employees in a program of global competencies for working on aircraft: torqueing, riveting, gauging, reading blueprints (written and digital), how to use tools, ergonomics and more,” Taylor said.

“When they come out of that training, the employee ‘graduates’ to on-the-job training on A220 and A320 aircraft.”

Gov. Kay Ivey stands with the first class of FlightPath9, a new workforce development program created by Airbus. (Governor’s Office)

Alabama production hub

Airbus began producing A320 Family aircraft at its $600 million manufacturing facility in Alabama in 2015 and has since delivered more than 100 passenger jets to its customers in Mobile.

Earlier this year, Airbus broke ground on a second assembly line at the Mobile campus for the production of A220 aircraft. The $264 million project will create more than 430 jobs.

A220 production is expected to start on the current assembly line in the third quarter, with first delivery of a Mobile-assembled A220 aircraft scheduled for 2020. The new A220 production facilities will be complete by next year.

Working in partnership with AIDT, Alabama’s primary workforce development agency, Airbus has begun hiring workers for A220 production.

Starting positions are corrosion team and electrical or structural assemblers. The jobs are listed on the Airbus ApplicantPro career site with a planned early-June start date for the first class.

People who have applied for these positions in the past and been turned down only because of lack of experience are encouraged to reapply. Airbus intends to offer this program on a regular basis and will schedule it as hiring needs dictate.

This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.

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