PULLMAN — Olive-Harvey College and the Chicago Department of Aviation are teaming up to host an aviation job fair Thursday on the college’s South Side campus.
At the fair, which runs from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Olive-Harvey’s campus, 10001 S. Woodlawn Ave., companies will be looking to hire for a variety of positions, from cargo to concessions to security.
Applicants are encouraged to register online ahead of Thursday’s fair.
The job fair is an extension of the college’s Aviation Futures Training program, which launched in December 2018. It is run in partnership with AAR, an aviation services provider headquartered in suburban Wood Dale near O’Hare Airport.
AAR offers a number of services, from aircraft repair to aircraft part supplies.
The 10-week program has graduated two cohorts since launching in March 2019, with the next group set to finish this March. Each cohort averages 10 to 15 students. With an ever-expanding industry, the demand for aviation maintenance technicians is large, said Greg Dellinger, who runs outreach and engagement for the company.
“Aviation is for everyone,” Dellinger said. “With the Aviation Futures Training program, we’re creating a pipeline that gives people the opportunity to enter the middle class.”
Upon completing the program, participants receive a sheetmetal certificate and an opportunity to interview for a position at AAR. If accepted, they can choose to work at one of two maintenance facilities in Indianapolis or Rockford.
From there, students begin the Eagle Career Pathway Program, where they can enroll in aircraft mechanic school at Rockford’s community college, or enter an 18-month program at one of two Indianapolis colleges to build on their sheet metal skills.
While both Aviation Futures Program cohorts have been predominantly Black, the age and skill ranges are pretty wide. Some students are barely out of their teens, others are middle-aged or nearing retirement. Some have mechanic experience, others have never picked up a wrench. But all of the cohorts have shared a curiosity or a passion to learn something new, Dellinger said.
Still, he admitted, it’s been a labor of love “finding an audience” for the program, which he attributes to a lack of knowledge about it, and a pushback against vocational training.
“College isn’t for everybody, and it’s very expensive,” he said. “There’s this idea that you can’t make any money using hand tools, or that these are secondary jobs, and clearly that isn’t the case.”
Those who complete the program and go on to work at AAR can make close to $25 an hour with room to grow. P
rospective students must be Chicago residents with a high school diploma, or a GED. And those who may be a few credits short of their diploma can enroll in Olive-Harvey’s GED program. Tuition for Aviation Futures can be free for those who qualify.
People interested in learning more about the program or other opportunities within the airline industry are welcome to attend Thursday’s job fair.
Job seekers in need of a little help can attend one of several workshops on resume writing, workplace and apprenticeship tips and transitioning careers, too.
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