By Lisa Skeels
After adding 100 jobs, and expanding to over 300 employees over the past year, ComAv CEO Craig Garrick’s biggest challenge is finding local Victor Valley residents who can handle the type of work that the global airplane maintenance and leasing company excels in.
Last year, ComAv launched “Aviation Pathways” to directly address the issue it was facing in sourcing local employees and, along the way, gear students for promising careers in aviation. The plan was to partner with local educators to gain a better understanding of their interests and needs, leading to the development of aviation-based educational programs while providing aviation field expertise.
“We want to recruit locally as our staffing requirements increase,” Garrick told the Victorville Daily Press when the program was launched. “We’ve found that we are not only helping our own community by providing jobs, but recruiting locally provides our company with a longer-term and loyal employee base. We pride ourselves as a company with low employee turnover, which is unusual for an aviation-based company.”
On February 20, 2018, ComAv hosted the first “VVC Aviation Tour” with students, joined by fellow aviation companies GE, the VVC Aviation School and Exquadrum, coordinated with the Victor Valley College Bridge Program.
“It was a joint effort, everyone did a really great job,” said Lisa Skeels, ComAv Director of Corporate Marketing. “Victor Valley College Bridge Program did a lot of the heavy work in coordinating us all to make this happen. We’re happy to see the Aviation Tour as a great extension of the Aviation Pathways efforts”
Over 100 students from Victor Valley area High Schools convened at Southern California Logistics Airport (SCLA) and held a day-long program at ComAv’s hangar for a tour of aviation facilities and presentations by the companies and Victor Valley College programs. This tour provided students with not only exposure to the aviation industry, but with the unique mix of aviation companies, students can learn about different types of jobs and education within the aviation/aerospace industry.
Students at this session came from all over, including Serrano High School, Oak Hills High School, Hesperia High School, Victor Valley High School and Barstow High School. College students from Victor Valley College also attended.
At GE, students learned about engine testing and jet propulsion; at Exquadrum, they learned about rocket science, engineering & testing opportunities; the Victor Valley College Aviation School showcased its airframe and power plant education program and taught students about the educational requirements needed to pursue a career at the aforementioned companies.
ComAv, in addition to presenting about the job opportunities available at the company, offered students the opportunity to tour a 747.
The program ended at ComAv’s wide body hanger where over 100 students were treated to lunch and gathered to ask questions and get more one-on-one time with the organization they may have been most interested in. Aviation Pathways allows those interested students to seek internships with ComAv and get the hands-on experience needed to become a licensed airframe and power plant mechanic.
Located right next to Victor Valley College’s Airframe and Powerplant (A & P) school, ComAv offers paid internships, as well as provides the guidance and instruction needed to further the intern’s education. Don Dombrowski, ComAv’s Director of Quality and a founder of the Aviation Pathways program, is a long-time teacher at the A & P school.
A part of Aviation Pathways’ program are student internships with a pathway to employment at ComAv. One student from the first Aviation Tour has already been accepted for a ComAv internship, and there are three more slots open for summer internships.
Another Aviation Tour is scheduled in May, with a date to be determined. Educators interested in being a part of Aviation Pathways can learn more by contacting Lisa Skeels at firstname.lastname@example.org.