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Five questions with Boeing aviation jobs forecasterFive questions with Boeing aviation jobs forecaster

William Ampofo: ‘Future is bright’William Ampofo: ‘Future is bright’

Boeing Co.’s annual 20-year aviation jobs forecast is highly anticipated throughout the aviation industry. The projections are released in July, and they help colleges, businesses, and job seekers focus on meeting future demands. William Ampofo is the aircraft manufacturer’s vice president of business aviation and general aviation, and his department is responsible for gathering the data that leads to the predictions.

Boeing's William Ampofo releases the manufacturer's 2017-2036 aviation jobs forecast during EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, July 24. Photo by David Tulis.

During an exclusive AOPA Hangar Talk podcast, Ampofo shared tips about aviation career opportunities that he predicted would be “very bright.”

What does the overall aviation jobs market look like?

“The need for jobs and aviation skills in Boeing’s 20-year outlook are at a shortage, worldwide. Aviation maintenance technicians, airline pilots, aviation safety inspectors—all of these specializations need talent, so that’s something we are trying to focus on. If you look at baby boomer pilots, mechanics, and others, they are retiring and taking their skills and knowledge along with them and away from the industry. To deal with the pilot shortage many airlines are offering new bonus packages.” Ampofo added that the industry has also made strides to increase the number of women and minorities in aviation. “We take that very seriously [both] from a diversity and from an inclusion perspective.”

What kind of careers are available in the aviation industry?

“The good thing about aviation is that people look at the industry and think of the physical products—airplanes—but there’s an extensive network that supports the whole industry.” Ampofo said that an entire team of personnel keeps things running behind the scenes, including retailers, business people, security personnel, information technology specialists, air traffic controllers, airport managers, weather forecasters, and others. “For those looking at careers in aviation, the opportunities are vast and endless, as far as I’m concerned. If you look at aviation 25 to 30 years ago and look at the evolution of the products and the offerings that we have today—in addition to the emergence of some of the international markets—the future is very bright.”

What is influencing the overall growth of aviation?

Ampofo explained that a phenomenon called urbanization is helping drive the aviation industry. “As some of the emerging markets create more wealth—more individuals will be willing and able to fly. We are supplying the aircraft—and given our strong demand—our customers are going to need pilots to fly those planes. It’s truly a global footprint that we have—it’s North America, it’s Europe, it’s Asia” and beyond. Although advances in navigation, technology, efficiency, and autonomy are on the verge of changing the way people move, Ampofo said Boeing acknowledged a “strong pull” for “traditional flight with the aircraft we are producing.”

What advice do you have for those considering an aviation career?

“This is William’s perspective, but I think that students interested in an aviation career should establish a good foundation in science, technology, engineering, and math—that certainly would serve them well. As a career choice, I think that’s a good way to get some of the foundational elements. Additionally, they should conduct research to discover what’s out there. There’s a vast array of jobs in the industry, so find something that connects with their passion and what they’d like to do. The third thing I would probably say is to seek out a mentor and a school. The best opportunity is to talk to others that are doing the job that you aspire to do, and to understand what they did to get there so that you have some perspective. Those are all things that I’ve done over the years as I’ve decided where to take my career.”

Ampofo’s career began with a summer internship at United Technologies Corp. and included stops at Pratt & Whitney jet engine and Sikorsky helicopter divisions as he gained experience, sought mentors, and rose through the ranks. Although he is not yet a pilot, other members of his family are, including younger brother, Kelvin. “It’s in my blood and it’s something that I’m going to work towards as well.”

Final thoughts:

“You should all be extremely, extremely, excited about the future of aviation. I don’t know if you follow the news about where we’re going at the Boeing Co. but we had a record year last year in aircraft orders and deliveries. I think the future is bright and the biggest challenge that we have is keeping up with the demand—and that’s a good problem to have.”

AOPA has also recognized the importance of growing the pilot population and we have put several programs in place to ensure a robust future for aviators. The goal of AOPA’s You Can Fly High School Initiative is to help build and sustain aviation-based STEM programs and provide a quality workforce to the aviation industry. We also support flying clubs, rusty pilot seminars, and other pilot-support mechanisms that make flying safe, fun, and affordable.

The You Can Fly program and the Air Safety Institute are entirely funded by charitable donations to the AOPA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization. To be a part of the solution, visit   www.aopafoundation.org/donate.

David Tulis

David Tulis

Associate Editor Web/ePilot
AOPA Associate Editor Web/ePilot David Tulis joined AOPA in 2015 and is a seaplane-rated private pilot who enjoys vintage aircraft, aerobatic flying, and photography.
Topics: Aviation Industry, Pilot Training and Certification, Jet

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