It's a tough job market for many students, but job opportunities are soaring in one industry — aviation.

Canada is currently experiencing a national shortage of pilots. The Canadian Council for Aviation and Aerospace said that by 2036, Canada might be 6,000 pilots short, unable to meet growing demands in the industry.

Brian Morris, a director in Western University's commercial aviation management program, said the national shortage of pilots is because of two main reasons.

“There’s growth in the industry worldwide in terms of more flight activity," Morris said. "The other issue is the numerous retirements. You put those two factors together, and it's generating a shortfall worldwide.” 

He also said that there has been a shift in the relationship airlines have with schools that teach flight operations — airlines have started to deal directly with schools to seek out potential hires.

The commercial aviation management program is a four-year program that teaches airline management, and offers students the option of in-flight training.

Currently, the graduating class at Western is comprised of 26 students, 12 of which are taking the flight-operations option. 

Morris said that before the shortage, students graduating from flight-operations programs were often on their own, whereas now, schools like Western have relationships with airlines such as WestJet, Air Canada and Porter Airlines.

“They will look at our students. Some will be interviewed, and there’s a few people that will be direct entries,” Morris said. “What is happening now is new ... and has been going on for three to four years.”

Although airlines are seeking out more graduates from flight-operations programs, airlines won’t just hire anybody, according to Morris; their standards remain just as high.

“There’s a better link to get our students interviews and into a position to hopefully be hired by the airlines,” Morris said. 

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