MOBILE, Alabama – Collin Hall could hardly contain his excitement talking about the new job he starts next week at AMRO Aero in Fairhope, but the Perdido, Ala., native promised not to lose sight of the bigger picture.
“Yes ma’am. I’m going to finish school,” Hall told Cynthia Anthony, acting president of Enterprise State Community College, as more than 100 job seekers poured through the doors of the Alabama Aviation Center for its inaugural Aviation Career Fair and Open House.
Hall, who will be working on components in his new position, is in his first semester of classes at the ESCC satellite facility at Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley, but he promised Anthony he will complete his airframe and powerplant course of study despite his new job.
“This is just tremendous for our students and for the companies participating,” Anthony said of Saturday’s job fair and open house, organized jointly by the aviation center and the Southwest Alabama Workforce Development Council.
“It’s important that we create opportunities to bring our students and business and industry partners together to help further our economic development thrust, and the students are just so excited that these first-class employers are willing to talk to them,” Anthony said.
Angel Person, a staffing consultant with UTC Aerospace Systems in Foley, said there’s no question Alabama Aviation Center graduates are among some of the most disciplined and prepared candidates the company recruits.
“The (aviation center) is always very good to work closely with us and get the word out to students and alumni when we have positions available, and we always feel confident talking to (candidates) who have been here. Those who have received a degree or certificate have certainly taken a step in the right direction,” Person said.
On Saturday, for instance, UTC was actively recruiting for about 20 open assembler and processor positions as well as 35 to 40 slots in a a seven-week unpaid training course through the Alabama Industrial Development Training program that more often than not results in paid positions being offered upon completion.
Meanwhile, VT Mobile Aerospace and Engineering Inc. directed career fair participants to apply online for the as many as 60 positions the company hopes to fill before the close of 2014. Those positions include about 15 to 20 A&P technicians, five to 10 aircraft avionics technicians/electricians, about 20 aircraft sheetmetal technicians, a few nondestructive testing inspectors, an estimator, a senior bookkeeper, a marketing executive and eight to 10 production controllers.
“We had one guy come in with a background in (nondestructive testing), and that’s really hard to find, but we really saw all skill levels, and it’s encouraging,” Michael Sapelak, VT MAE’s program administrator for aviation maintenance technicians, said.
Likewise, Segers Aero Corp. in Fairhope not only identified a few potential candidates for a handful of positions not yet filled in the company’s latest hiring wave but can also begin building a strong database of potential future hires into 2015.
“This gives us a really strong candidate pool going forward,” Les Holford, Segers’ senior vice president and chief operations officer, told AL.com. “We’re ramping up for our current and upcoming work load, so we’re looking to fill mechanical positions as well as support positions such as painting, cleaning and inspection,” Holford said.
Meanwhile, Stephanie Burt with Airbus said she was impressed by the diversity of skill level Saturday’s career fair attracted and “thrilled to see so many people excited about aerospace.”
“We’ve already seen more than one dozen students this morning telling us they’re really interested and this is what they want to do and asking what they need to do to be prepared for what happens after graduation, and seeing 12 people period this early on a Saturday morning is incredible, but those are just the students,” Burt said.
Stanley Ross Jr. of Mobile is one of those students who said he had no idea the Alabama Aviation Center even existed until his girlfriend started doing a little research for him regarding aerospace training in the Gulf Coast area.
“I didn’t even know the school was here, but now I’m playing chess in my mind, trying to stay a few steps ahead and be prepared when I graduate in May,” said Ross, who has been studying avionics.
“Electronics and technology are the future of aerospace, and aerospace is the future of Mobile. I really like the direction my city is growing, and I want to be a part of that growth,” Ross said.