As director of Andrews Aviation Academy in High Point, Cynthia Waters knows how important it is to train local employees for aviation careers as opposed to training talent from outside of North Carolina.
“When you hire people from other states, they are always looking to go back home. They are always looking to find something different,” Waters said. But if local employees “have a nice job here where they can support their family, they are going to stay here, they are going to pay their taxes here, they are going to raise their children here.”
To grow talented workers who will fill the local employment pipeline, Waters has worked to quadruple the number of academy students participating in the school’s internship program that began in 2012.
The academy plans to send 29 interns this summer to nine local businesses for paid, on-the-job training. That’s up from seven interns sent to three local businesses in 2012.
Participating businesses this summer include HAECO Americas, Aerosphere Aviation, Cessna Citation, Graco Industries, Piedmont Triad Airport Authority, Piedmont Flight Training, TAA Flight Training and Genesis Aviation.
Interns are paid $9 per hour though a three-year grant from the Cemala Foundation that is funding the internships through 2016. Waters said she hopes the Cemala Foundation will renew the grant so that the internships can continue.
“They seem to be very pleased with what we are doing here,” she said.
The internships aren’t just about getting a paycheck, Waters said. The goal is to make academy students more marketable once they graduate and seek employment with local companies for a range of positions including aerospace engineer, avionics technician, flight dispatcher and airport management roles.
“They already have a head-start above anybody else,” Waters said of academy students who intern with local businesses. “They already know the system, they already know the people, they know the ins-and-outs, they know the rules.”
Waters said the academy graduates also provide companies with employees who have good character.
“They are polite, they are on time, they listen,” Waters said. “They have ‘with-it-ness.