Brian Barsanti, Executive Director of the Southern Museum of Flight in Birmingham, Alabama, said, “[When] the ‘greatest generation’ came back from World War II, they made a lot of babies. A lot of those babies went out into the workforce. Now they’re retiring at a higher rate, and we don’t have enough of the Gen Xers, the Yers, and the Millennials to fill those [positions]. There’s a huge gap.”
Barsanti hopes to help bridge that gap with a museum-led workforce training initiative that will supply much-needed skilled workers. Next spring, the museum will begin offering dual enrollment programs for high school students in conjunction with the Alabama Community College System.
The museum also will help members of the military transition into the civilian aviation industry and help current airline employees expand their skill sets and develop new areas of expertise, he said.
The museum is partnering with the Jefferson State Community College, Lawson State Community College and Snead State Community College. It will become a branch campus for the Community College System, said Barsanti. The museum is currently converting some of its hangar space into a workforce development center. The facility will consist of a combination of classroom space and a hands-on technology lab. Delta Air Lines has agreed to partner with the Southern Museum of Flight in support of the program, Barsanti said. The museum also is exploring the possibility of training for drone maintenance and has acquired 24 acres for what it is calling its Grand River campus, tripling its footprint.