As local aircraft maintenance company KF Aerospace continues its hunt for qualified employees, Okanagan College is doubling down on its Aircraft Maintenance Engineering-Structures program.
This November, the college will take an additional 12 students into the accelerated training program, which operates at KF’s YLW campus.
The company and the college have been collaborating on the program for years, but after landing several major contracts KF has been hiring as many tradespeople as it can find.
After scouring the country for the new 60 AMEs it recently hired, KF Aerospace still came up short on staffing. Looking for a solution, the company approached Okanagan College earlier this summer and set the wheels in motion to launch the additional class.
Over the last two years, the company has hired the entire graduating class of the college’s Aircraft Maintenance Engineering-Structures program. That likely won’t change when the new class graduates next August.
“In the last 10 years, we’ve built three new hangars in Kelowna and tripled the floor space and the number of aircrafts of which we can do heavy maintenance on,” says Grant Stevens, the director of human resources for KF Aerospace. “The number one staffing shortage we have is for AME-S – we just can’t hire trained technicians fast enough.”
Steve Moores, the dean of trades and apprenticeship at Okanagan College, points out that the demand for AME-S in Kelowna is part of a nationwide trend.
Boeing has predicted a global industry need for 609,000 aircraft maintenance technicians over the next 20 years, making it the most in-demand occupation in the aviation industry.
KF Aerospace is headquartered in Kelowna, and employs more than 900 staff across Canada.
It provides heavy maintenance, modification and engineering services to Canadian, U.S. and international customers; air cargo operations; aircraft leasing; and RCAF pilot training.
The company and college are hosting an open house Sept. 20, at 6 p.m. at KF Aerospace’s location at the Kelowna Airport, for anyone interested in the Aircraft Maintenance Engineering-Structures program.
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