Addressing A Pilot Shortage

COAST FLIGHT TRAINING

iflycoast.com/act-program-application

There is a serious pilot shortage in the United States right now, and is expected to get worse. Aviation Week magazine reported recently that more than 20,000 U.S. airline pilots are expected to retire over the next seven years. And airlines – particularly regional companies – are already struggling to secure enough qualified aviators to meet the demands.

Coast Flight Training, a professional pilot training facility in San Diego, developed the Airline Career Training (ACT) Program to address the shortage. ACT focuses on recruiting veterans who have aviation skills. Veterans can use their VA Benefits to complete the program; classes start every three months. After 21 months of flight training and college schooling, successful students leave with an associate’s degree in aviation pilot training and a conditional offer of employment from SkyWest Airlines. They begin the SkyWest Cadet Program immediately.


A SUCCESSFUL STUDENT | DEJUAN WILKINS

ACT students Danny Perez and Olumbe Falu assist with the recruiting. Perez is featured in the Coast Flight Training’s promotional video.

DeJuan Wilkins, senior pilot recruiter, is in charge of pilot recruitment. Wilkins served in the United States Air Force for 20 years, separating as a technical sergeant. He was the officer recruiting supervisor in charge of Southern California and Arizona. For 10 years, he was responsible for the Air Force’s pilot recruitment. During his last year, he was named Air Force Pilot Recruiter of the Year. Coast Flight recruited Wilkins at a Recruit Military Job Fair in California.

Wilkins is putting his military training to good use at Coast Flight. “While in the Air Force, I was trained on professional selling skills and talent acquisition in recruiting school,” he said. “I also learned how to train other recruiters and manage a large zone. I was in charge of the pilot candidate recruiting for the Air Force, and the experience helped me transition into recruiting pilot candidates for airline pilot training.”

His experience working with diverse personnel in the Air Force is also paying off. “In the Air Force, I learned full-cycle recruiting, marketing, and leadership, and these skills are essential in my current position,” he said. “In my 20 years of active duty, I encountered people from many different countries and many different parts of the U.S. as well. One thing I mastered was how to learn from and respect different cultures and traditions. I realized that I can get along with everybody.”

Wilkins said that the school appreciates its student-veterans. “Coast Flight Training School is an amazing place to work and train for veterans,” he said. “Around 75 percent of our students are veterans, and leadership works hard to make sure all veterans have the best possible training and learning environment.”

Wilkins recognizes that looking for employment can be a full-time job. “To those leaving the military, my best advice is that you should work on your resume every day until you get the job,” he said. “It is also very important to go to career fairs as often as you can, where you will meet with employers and learn what opportunities are available.”

He also recommends that job hunters use social media to their advantage. “Something that I didn’t do, but would advise others to do, would be to get on LinkedIn early,” he said. “A good LinkedIn profile helps you to connect with businesses as well as be aware of career fairs.”

This article appeared in the September-October 2015 issue of Search & Employ Magazine