Congressman Ehlers' Efforts Aim To Ensure A Strong Aerospace Industry
Vernon J. Ehlers
February 1, 2007 — A bill signed into law late last year establishes the Interagency Aerospace Revitalization Task Force, an 11-member panel charged to develop a comprehensive strategy to increase the number of students and workers who choose science, engineering and other aerospace-related careers. Author of the bill was Michigan Congressional Representative and EAA member Vernon J. Ehlers (EAA 685118).
The task force will also establish partnerships with industry, organized labor, academia, and state governments to coordinate aerospace career education and training programs. It will be comprised of two presidential appointees as well as appointees from a variety of federal agencies and departments.
Rep. Ehlers, a regular EAA AirVenture attendee who hopes to someday build his own airplane, proposed the task force as a means to ensure the stability of high-skilled jobs and the global competitiveness of the domestic aerospace industry.
"This legislation is imperative to meet the challenge of expanding the aerospace industry in the U.S.," Ehlers said, noting that the aerospace industry leads the U.S. economy in net exports and supports nearly 11 million American jobs. He also warned that approximately one-quarter of the aerospace workforce will become eligible for retirement by 2008, while U.S. students currently rank near the bottom of industrialized countries in mathematics and science test performance.
"We must have a reliable, long-term supply of technically qualified workers. The federal government can play a dynamic role in harnessing the resources of both the public and private sectors to expand the number of students who choose aerospace careers."
Ehlers praised EAA's Young Eagles program, the world's most successful youth aviation initiative in history, which has provided nearly 1.3 million kids ages 8-17 with an introduction to flight. "Programs such as Young Eagles and AeroScholars have proven to be effective in generating interest among young people in the many future possibilities available to them in the aerospace industry," Ehlers said. "These important initiatives are helping to create the next generation of aerospace workers."