Myrtle Beach school among tops in nation for fighting skills gap

Myrtle Beach school among tops in nation for fighting skills gap

PITTSBURGH —- The Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics was recognized among the top schools fighting the nation's skills gap in a list published yesterday by Forbes.

For the first time, Forbes has put together a comprehensive ranking of two-year trade schools. Using the same "return on investment" focus as the annual top colleges report, this list of 30 looks at three critical data points: earnings, affordability and quality. Full methodology can be found here.

The Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics lands as the No. 11 two-year trade school in the U.S. and is the top school on the list for technical trades.

Peg Skalican, director of the Myrtle Beach campus, said this articles really brings to light the technical schools that often are overlooked.

"For decades, technical schools have almost been considered an alternative or maybe less than a four-year degree and it's starting to bring to light that there are viable careers out there for people for jobs that require skills," Skalican said.

PIA student Nick Ayres is just one who said he enjoys the hands-on experience.

"I was really determined to do something with my hands and I've always liked stuff like this," he said.

Now in his third semester, Ayres said he has learned a lot without being in a traditional classroom setting.

"We have about a five-guy team working on the engine," he said. "We all learn if one of us messes up something, the other guy corrects us. So it's a learning process all the way through."

Skalican said the aviation industry is in high demand to find skilled workers and the campus is trying - with all forms of within-budget advertising - to bring in more students.

There will only be 1,600 more aircraft mechanics and service technicians in 2024 than there were in 2014, but with over 30,000 job openings over that time, schools like PIA are poised to hook students up with available and fine-paying jobs.

"Boeing's forecast shows over 76 percent of the workforce is over 50 years old," Skalican said. "They're going to experience a fast retirement, which will also produce a need for aviation technicians."

According to PIA career services officials, employers are seeking A&P mechanics with strong soft skills, leadership qualities and dependability - all skills required to grow and advance within a company.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics cites a median salary for aircraft mechanics and service technicians at $60,270.

Since 1929, the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics campus has been training certified and work-ready aviation maintenance technicians in high demand with programs in aviation maintenance technology and aviation electronics.

PIA's flagship program, the Aviation Maintenance Technology program, has been providing quality aircraft mechanics for over 85 years. It provides students with the opportunity to test for the prestigious FAA's Airframe and Powerplant Certification, the "golden ticket" to a career in aviation maintenance.

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