WSU Tech President and Vice President of Workforce Development at Wichita State University Dr. Sheree Utash testified before the U.S. Senate’s Commerce Committee on Aviation on Thursday about the growth of the aviation industry and the increasing demand for highly skilled aviation workers.
The committee, which includes U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran from Kansas, held a hearing titled “Strengthening the Aviation Workforce” to “examine challenges facing the aviation workforce and identify solutions for improving the education, recruitment, hiring, training and retention of workers in the aviation industry and at the Federal Aviation Administration.” The hearing also examined “opportunities to increase representation in and promote awareness of aviation careers,” according to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation website.
Utash was invited to testify by Moran, who she said has offered consistent support for WSU Tech’s efforts to increase aviation technology programs.
“I want to personally thank Senator Moran for championing the crucial cause of fortifying our aviation workforce,” she said. “With unparalleled dedication, he persists in advocating for the interests of Kansas and the country amidst the exceptional challenges faced by this vital sector. Wichita, in particular, remains immensely indebted to his unwavering support.”
In her testimony, Utash outlined WSU Tech’s efforts to support Wichita’s aviation industry through the National Center for Aviation Training, which has a national reputation for excellence and places 92% of its graduates in high-demand jobs in aerospace throughout southcentral Kansas after graduation.
Utash’s testimony can be viewed starting at the 57-minute mark here.
The rigorous curriculum and applied learning requirements have bolstered WSU Tech’s international reputation in the field of aviation technology, created a pathway for success for its students, and fueled a talent pipeline for Kansas employers.
Utash also pointed to several articles and reports that indicate an increasing shortfall between the supply and demand for aviation workers in the coming years and urged senators to support efforts to align education and workforce training programs with employer needs.
“We need to urge new and more innovative industry-career and technical education partnerships that support student success and meet the diverse needs of students, industry and our communities, resulting in a much broader talent pool, thereby enhancing the aviation workforce,” she testified.