Laurel Oaks, SSCC, Air Park partner


WILMINGTON — Let’s talk about the educational and employment victories resulting from the collaboration between the A collaboration of Laurel Oaks Career Campus, Southern State Community College and the aviation-related industries at Wilmington Air Park has resulted in an educational as well as an employment win-win-win situation.

The three-year old partnership between Laurel Oaks and Southern State to help supply the aircraft maintenance and power plant technicians of the future has proven successful, according to Amy McClellan, coordinator for academic partnerships, for both high school students and adults enrolled in the programs.

The agreement means the schools offer secondary and post-secondary programs that can lead to employment at a repair station, airline/airfreight company, in aircraft or aerospace manufacturing, as an aviation maintenance technician, sales and service technician, or as a fixed-base aircraft operator.

Many of those types of jobs are offered at several aviation-related businesses at the Wilmington Air Park.

“It is a great partnership we have, first of all because of the proximity,” saidEric Salyers, human resources generalist for Airborne Maintenance and Engineering Services, Inc. (AMES), located at the air park. “We are basically a football field away (from the Laurel Oaks’ Corwin Nixon Aviation Building) and we have tons of opportunities for students that are coming out of aviation school.

“We are the perfect opportunity for them because we are growing by leaps and bounds in an industry that is very stable anyway.”

Southern State’s North Campus, where classes are held as well as at the aviation center, is also located nearby just off one of the air park runways.

Opportunity abounds because in the last year AMES began operations in a massive new maintenance hangar which required 259 highly-skilled workers — just like those being trained locally.

“We have made great strides with the program,” McClellan said. “We see increases in enrollment every year.”

And whereas the Wilmington Air Park is a logical location for many of the program’s students to start careers, many are finding positions at metro airports and smaller airports in the region and across the country.

AMES also offers internships to students in training, which is another great selling point for the program.

“Because the program is successful, students seem to find us,” McClellan said.

That is what she told state education officials when they accompanied Ohio Gov. John Kasich on his visit to Wilmington to deliver his annual State of the State address earlier this year.

“I told the chancellor that I don’t recruit because students and our faculty are the greatest asset in marketing the program,” she said.

The possibility of a career that starts at $16.50 an hour at AMES and has the potential to go to more than double that in a few years is also quite attractive. And there is the possibility of moving up the ranks to management as well.

“Absolutely,” said Salyers. “The majority of our management here has come up through the ranks and we are always pushing our employees to go to the next step in their careers.”

A win-win-win for education, employment

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