Photo credit: IHED

The up-and-coming generation - whether you call them the Millennials, digital natives, or Generation Z - form a critical group for you to identify with: the Next Generation of Aviation Professionals (NGAP). If this sounds like a new twist on “Next Gen,” perhaps you’re right. Regardless, we must draw the NGAP into our industry by telling a compelling story.

Right now, a myriad of exciting career options vie for the attention of the would-be NGAP. Some, such as space exploration and drone technology, have a distinct aviation angle. You know, however, that we need young people interested in a variety of disciplines to come into aviation in order to keep us flying today, as we innovate for tomorrow.

So how do we engage teens searching for the right career path? At WATS 2018, you’ll see some of the simulation and V/R (virtual reality) technology best able to draw their attention. But all of the bells and whistles in the world mean nothing if they don’t come with people who use them, demonstrating the passion involved with bringing this technology to life and into operation.

Every day, those young people see the power of narrative (YouTube, SnapChat), the importance of blasting your message around the world (SpaceX, Blue Origin), and the pursuit of what’s true. They know that half of what they read and watch on social media could be “fake news,” and deep down they seek answers from people they can trust.

By setting the stage for a direct connection with the NGAP, the Student Education and Careers in Aviation (SECA) program at WATS gives you the opportunity to start building these relationships. You’ll have a chance to talk one-on-one with those students attending the program, and even have the ability to present ideas for their future--but, most of all, learn what matters to them. Listening can be the most powerful tool you have!

This year, WATS features a full-day program for students in middle and high school from the surrounding Orlando area, for a low cost, and with discounted opportunities for educational institutions and aviation training organizations to exhibit in a special area of the conference. With the assistance of SECA partner International Higher Education Group (IHED), we aim to bring together students seeking answers with those institutes of higher learning that can assist them on their way, and with the companies offering a wide range of career paths once these future professionals graduate.

The day-long SECA conference stream takes place on Thursday, April 19, beginning with a morning convocation bringing everyone together and launching the discussions. Then students can spend time in the main exhibit hall speaking with our colleagues and friends who are regulators, flight crew, simulation manufacturers, and training professionals. A lunch follows, with an afternoon of roundtables featuring industry experts. All told, here’s your chance to make that direct connection!

What’s the compelling story you have for the NGAP?

This article was created by IHED, which has partnered with Halldale Media to promote the SECA conference stream at WATS 2018.