WASHINGTON DC – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) this week introduced the Aviation Minority Workforce Development Act, legislation that would direct the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to create a federal grant program to increase racial and gender minority access and representation in the aviation workforce, among other opportunities, by creating and expanding aviation programs at state-supported Minority Serving Institutions — including Historically Black Colleges, Hispanic-serving institutions, Tribal Colleges or Universities, Alaska Native-serving institutions or Native Hawaiian-serving institutions, Predominantly Black Institutions, Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions, and Native American-serving nontribal institutions.
In 2018, Congress passed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act, which created a Women in Aviation Advisory Board (WIAAB) to provide recommendations on promoting gender diversity in the U.S. aviation workforce by providing education, training, mentorship, and advocacy opportunities for women and girls.
In March 2022, the FAA released a report underscoring that the U.S. aviation system had fallen behind in providing job opportunities to minorities, finding that less than 20 percent of aviation sector workers are women, less than 10 percent of pilots and maintenance technicians are women, and workers of color make up less than 10 percent of flight engineers.
This report stated that “identifying and recruiting talent from underrepresented groups is an obvious and necessary strategy to address workforce needs throughout the industry. Federal financial support to colleges and universities that serve underrepresented communities will help reach a more diverse population of students, including women, with support for access to aviation training.”
The report also included a number of recommendations to increase the gender and racial diversity of the aviation workforce, including the recommendation that Congress establish a federal grant program for Minority Serving Institutions to create or expand aviation programs.
“Our aviation workforce must have individuals from all backgrounds, races, and genders,” said Senator Markey. “That is why I am proud to introduce the Aviation Workforce Development Act. My bill will empower Minority Serving Institutions to develop the next generation of aviation pioneers to reflect the diversity across our country. We must uplift students of every gender and race so that their aviation career can take off, including by supporting MSIs for the skies.”
The legislation can be found HERE.
Specifically, the Aviation Minority Workforce Development Act will grow racial and gender diversity in the aviation sector by:
- Facilitating the creation of and support for existing aviation programs at recognized MSI’s; and
- Facilitating the creation of and support for existing aviation programs at non-MSI’s for the express purpose of increasing racial and gender minority access in aviation.
The Aviation Minority Workforce Development Act is endorsed by the WIAAB, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges, and University of Massachusetts Amherst.
“In order for the United States to maintain and enhance its economic status in the world, we must be intentional about unlocking, investing in, and developing talent from across the diverse landscape of our country,” said Dr. Harry L. Williams, President and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. “The Aviation Minority Workforce Development Act is an example of smart public policy that invests in the talent at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions to strengthen our nation’s workforce while opening the doors of opportunity for countless students to pursue their dreams. We thank Senator Markey for sponsoring this very important piece of legislation and look forward to working with him to get it across the finish line.”
“This is an exciting program that could provide incredible career opportunities to individuals who may not have perceived it as a possibility before. The facilitation of specialized aviation programs, increased access to apprenticeships, and scholarship opportunities is particularly fitting for community colleges both for the benefit of our students and the aviation workforce,” said Nate MacKinnon, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges.
“The aviation industry demands a diverse workforce that is trained on cutting-edge technology,” said Sanjay Raman, Dean of Engineering at UMass Amherst. “We appreciate Senator Markey’s leadership in offering this important legislation. The UMass Amherst Transportation Center, particularly through its work at the UMass Aviation Research & Training facility at the Westover Municipal Airport, stands ready to forge new collaborations across higher education institutions that will allow us to leverage our research and training expertise to meet the future needs of air transportation and its workforce.”