In many countries being an airline pilot has a lot of status and they are well paid so this attracts young people to the profession,” begins Carolyn Thorburn, General Manager at Australian Wings Academy (AWA) , a professional pilot training facility based in Australia. The academy specialises in flight training for the Commercial Pilot License (needed for a career as a pilot) and Instrument Rating (Multi Engine Command Instrument Rating), which essentially qualifies individuals to fly.
Thorburn relates that overseas students must be able to show competency in the English language and the admission criteria for the Certificate IV in Aviation or Diploma in Aviation programme is an Ielts score of 5.5. “We have a local English school that provides basic and aviation English training,” she adds. Accumulating 200 hours of flight time (the minimum requirement for a CPL), students on the course also sit 10 theory subjects covering components such as aeronautical knowledge, passenger management and meteorology. International students can expect to pay AUS$90,000 (US$91,482) in fees for the 15 month course, notes Thorburn.
Aviation Australia is another vocational training facility that aims to hone the skills of the next generation of pilots. “With a continually changing environment and constantly evolving technology, a career in the aviation industry is an exciting and challenging path to follow,” says Andrew Rankin at the organisation.
Both domestic and international students can enrol on a number of programmes including Certificate II in Aviation (Flight Operations), the Diploma of Aircraft Maintenance Engineering – Mechanical, the Diploma of Aircraft Maintenance Engineering – Avionics or the Dual Diploma of Aircraft Maintenance Engineering. The diploma suite is particularly popular among international students, notes Rankin. If students wish to improve their English language skills they can attend Aviation Australia’s English language centre on site. It also has a number of partnerships in place with language schools throughout Australia including Navitas; Kaplan; Embassy CES; Browns English Language School; Lexis English and Langports, among others, and the organisation recognises qualifications from these schools in place of an Ielts certificate.
Aside from diploma and certificate programmes, there is scope to study to degree level in the subject. University of the Fraser Valley in Canada offers a four-year Bachelor of Business Administration in Aviation (BAA) and a four-year Bachelor of General Studies in Aviation alongside its one or two year Aviation diploma. “The nice thing about UFV is our programmes ‘ladder’ into one another,” notes a university spokesperson, “so a student could easily apply for the diploma, then complete an additional two years to receive a degree”, they observe. “We see quite a few students who opt for this, particularly because in Canada, students may apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit after a one-year academic programme. So if they start with the diploma, they could already begin working and collecting hours for their immigration application,” they add.
Chopperline Helicopter and Aeroplane Flight Training is another Australian-based organisation and has been recruiting international students since 1991. Both Certificate IV programmes (the training centre specialises in either aeroplane or helicopter training) consist of 15 units broken into four modules, explains Helena Watkins. “The number one country Chopperline recruit from is Oman which is largely based on a contract that was secured through the Royal Oman Police.” Other top source countries include Papua New Guinea, Germany, Malaysia and France.
Flight Training Adelaide (FTA) in Australia offers the Certificate IV in Aviation, Diploma in Aviation, Flight Instrument Operations and an Advanced Diploma in Aviation, and these appeal to a good demographic of international students, confirms Michael Wallis at the school. “The worldwide shortage of pilots given future aircraft orders and the notion that you can travel the world while making a living makes it a very attractive vocation,” he enthuses. The training centre currently enrols a number of students from Hong Kong. “Mainly driven by our association with Cathy Pacific, Dragonair and the Hong Kong Government Flying Service,” he explains.
Help from overseas
Education agents and recruitment consultants play an important role in student recruitment strategies the world over, and vocational providers are increasingly turning to recruitment specialists for their international student needs. “We are currently in the process of sourcing education consultants for recruitment purposes so we can expand our marketing and recruit large numbers of students,” says Helena Watkins at Chopperline Helicopter and Aeroplane Flight Training in Australia.
Aviation Australia utilises the services of more than 60 agents in multiple countries, says Andrew Rankin, Strategy & Business Development Manager, and are consistently seeking opportunities to engage with new agent partners. “Aviation Australia attends a number of international student events throughout the year and makes regular visits to its network of agents,” he adds. The centre is experiencing increased demand from the Middle East, Asia and South America.
The high dollar has negatively impacted on the international student market more recently, observes Carolyn Thorburn at Australian Wings Academy in Australia. The organisation has been forced to rethink its approach to international student recruitment where they have started a targeted marketing campaign in China. While some students approach the academy directly, there are some markets where agent usage is preferable. “Brazil is a new market for us and this is through an agent,” she says.