The aviation industry: a viable career choice for Arab youth
November 15 2019 11:59 PM
Bernard J. Dunn
Bernard J. Dunn

By Bernard J. Dunn

Since the advent of flying more than a century ago, aviation has become one of the most resilient industries. Powered by forward-looking innovations but also faced with numerous setbacks, the industry has continuously adapted to various market forces: underlying demand for air travel, regulatory, infrastructure and technology developments, and airline strategies. The forward-looking nature of the industry is largely due to the brilliant work being carried out by researchers, engineers, technicians, and designers…
Regional governments have stressed the importance of investing in youth to create the leaders of the future and help meet their long-term strategies of having diversified economies, a strong organic industry, smart cities and for many, a strong focus on aerospace. These visions are based on scientific and technological innovation, manufacturing and engineering. They are dependent on a workforce excelling in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) yet in many parts of the world including in the Middle East, we have a shortage of STEM majors. 
So where does this leave you? Arab youth have a great opportunity to focus on developing the soft skills and STEM education required to excel in the marketplace of tomorrow and be part of building the future of travel. Air travel remains a vibrant market, one worth considering. The industry has now recorded nine straight years of steady and above-trend growth.
In the Middle East, robust demand is expected in the next 20 years as strong economic growth, a growing middle class, increased consumer spending on services and evolving airline business models bring more value to passengers and support the long-term outlook. 
Boeing forecasts that the region will need 3,130 new airplanes valued at $725bn through 2038. This promising outlook means the region will need to employ a significant number of people to keep those planes flying. In fact, the region will need 68,000 pilots, 69,000 maintenance technicians, and 104,000 cabin crew personnel. 
Growing fleets in the region will also drive the need for expanded component logistics and Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO) services in the region. As fleets grow and expand into a broader global market, managing maintenance logistics will become more complex. In fact, commercial aviation services worldwide will demand $8.8tn over the next 20 years and the Middle East will drive more than 8% of that global demand, representing $790bn, and growing at a projected 4.6% annually, resulting in an abundance of exciting opportunities for students who choose to go down this route.
Aviation was and remains a sustainable pathway to economic growth providing a wide range of employment opportunities. Despite the growth I described, 80% of the world has never flown on a plane before! Imagine that!  
Commercial aviation has a bright future and so do you. The technology used in aerospace right now and the exponential speed at which it’s growing, has us and every other player in the industry in awe of what we’re able to create in the very near future. 
And at the core of this progress is you. You are the future engineers, innovators, builders, disruptors and there is a place for each and every one of you in the world of aerospace. 

(Dunn is President of Boeing Middle East, North Africa and Turkey)

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