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North Texas Aviation Education Initiative
In response to the widely-recognized need for additional workforce in the region, the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) in 2009 launched the North Texas Aviation Education Initiative. Pavlik and Associates and its team of aviation education specialists were retained to conduct a comprehensive study of existing assets and resources and to develop a far-reaching strategic business plan that creates the foundation for an integrated aviation education and employment system. The vision, as developed in this study, is:
The greater North Central Texas community seeks to create and sustain an aviation and education system that fosters individual aviation careers as well as regional aviation viability and growth.
Fourteen reports make up the study and provide detailed recommendations for program implementation.
It was determined by Pavlik that the creation of multiple, integrated programs which support aviation education opportunities in North Central Texas requires cooperation and alliances among educational institutions such as community colleges, universities and independent school districts (ISDs); aviation professional associations, organizations and youth-oriented program providers, and aviation businesses and companies at all levels and in all related fields.
Three focus groups were conducted to gain insights into the needs and concerns of individuals interested in aviation employment. These groups were the basis of the public outreach portion of the study as they reflected local student opinions. Findings overwhelmingly support the tenet that an affordable, comprehensive aviation education program is important to sustain the industry’s economic vitality and employment opportunities in North Central Texas.
The successful implementation of this initiative and its ultimate strength depends, to a great degree, upon community awareness of and participation in the integrated education program offerings. Thus, Pavlik developed a program brands the initiative so that the public—and in particular potential students—recognize its significance. Coupled with study graphic elements, Pavlik developed a marketing slogan to be applied to all materials, especially those on the internet and with interactive capability. Blogs, twitter, brochures, public service announcements, and outdoor and sports venue signage were recommended by Pavlik.
More than just outreach slogans and materials, there are numerous programs and coordination efforts that should be applied to increase general awareness; some of which include helping students find their way through career paths so it is easy to navigate the steps to an ultimate career. Education plays an important role in achieving success but, more importantly, an education appropriate to the aviation industry empowers the student/graduate to gain entry into their desired career field.
Another important component is the development of a Speakers Bureau. This serves as a listing of topical speakers that support the initiative’s overall outreach program. Categories presented within the directory are industry representatives, educators, aviation association spokespersons, and workforce development specialists.
Pavlik’s research found that exposure to aviation activities at an early age is important in stimulating children to think about a career in an aviation field. The study provides a compilation of education and outreach resources including the Federal Aviation Administration, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, National Business Aviation Association, National Association of State Aviation Officials, Civil Air Patrol, Texas Department of Transportation Aviation Division, Texas Transportation Institute, Experimental Aircraft Association, National Agricultural Aviation Association, National Coalition for Aviation Education, and the Organization of Black Airline Pilots.
Having established that significant resources are available to primary and secondary teachers and guidance counselors, Pavlik outlined how a strong aviation career message should be delivered to students. Pavlik’s report discusses dual credit programs, magnet schools, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs, after school activities for younger children, career and technical education, and extracurricular events and activities.
Pavlik’s study identified North Central Texas’ numerous assets and strengths which should be applied to the development of an integrated aviation education program. Aviation programs already exist at the University of North Texas (UNT) Denton, Tarrant County Community College (TCC), Mountain View College (MVC), and Paris Junior College. Other prominent state schools with science and engineering degree programs are the University of North Texas (UNT) Dallas, the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), and the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD). Programs in several secondary schools serve as models for introducing high school students to aviation careers including Skyline High School in Dallas, Dunbar High School in Fort Worth, DeSoto High School, Coppell High School, and Martin High School in Arlington. Because of the region’s strong economy, the airport system is well-developed and provides training for pilots. Given the on-going improvements in the area’s ground transportation systems, some basic connections to colleges, universities, and trade schools exist.
Pavlik recommended a non-profit organization be created by the leadership of the region’s aviation industry, in cooperation with NCTCOG and with the support of the area’s institutions of higher learning and workforce development proponents. Through its non-profit status, contributions and corporate gifts can be tax exempt. The foundation should assume responsibilities for maintaining and expanding, as appropriate, the integrated aviation education program that is the result of the NCTCOG initiative. Board members should include industry leaders and representatives of colleges, universities, chambers of commerce, and economic development entities as well as the Commander of NAS Fort Worth JRB.
The report emphasizes, that because the costs of establishing an aviation education program from the ground up can be staggering, the benefit of taking a regional approach to program development and implementation lies in the ability to share resources and to identify creative applications utilizing these resources toward a common goal.
Upon Pavlik’s completion of its study findings and recommendations for implementation of the aviation education initiative, NCTCOG has set about indentifying funding and initial partners for moving forward.
For more information, please see North Texas Aviation Education Initiative: Development and Implementation.
MarCom Awards International Marketing and Communications Competition
- Gold Award: Design/logo for the North Central Texas Aviation Education Initiative on behalf of the North Central Texas Council of Governments