ROCKFORD (WREX) - Aerospace may be what Rockford needs to lift its unemployment out of its "worst-in-the-state" status. And one Rockford high school wants to lead the way. Jefferson High School brought in an expert to get students excited about the possibilities.
"We feel there is a growing disparity right now in available skilled positions and individuals, young America, to have the skill set and education to do those jobs," says Greg Dellinger, AAR Corp. Recruiting Director.
He met with a small group of Jefferson High School students to talk to them about choosing a job in aerospace
"Every commercial aircraft flying is on a maintenance schedule. We do that work with certificated mechanics they are known as airframe and power plant technicians and that is an area that I am heavily recruiting in right now," says Dellinger.
One of AAR's customers is Allegiant Airlines which also happens to fly out of Rockford's airport. Dellinger says over the next 15 years, the aviation industry will need more than 600-thousand mechanics. Dellinger says the average wage for an airframe or power plant technician with experience can be around $20 to $30 per hour. The jobs require a certification, something Rock Valley College already offers. And Jefferson administrators are trying to see whether students might be interested in working towards that certificate or another like it while they're still in high school.
"We are looking at academies as a possibility, nothing is set in stone. So we thought it would be important to have the community bring forth people that could talk to our students to see, is this viable, is this something we could intersperse here and to make it better," says Devon LaRosa, Jefferson High School Assistant Principal.
Jefferson High School has also been working with Woodward and Hamiliton-Sundstrand to talk about the possibility of an aerospace career academy.