Industry could do more to encourage aerospace students, says the president elect of Euroavia, a well-established student association. More contact and support today should pay dividends for Europe tomorrow.
Vjola Ristori, the young president to be of the European Association of Aerospace Students (Euroavia), aired her organisation's concerns at a recent workshop on how to secure aerospace's future engineering workforce. The workshop – put on by the EU-supported Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACARE) alongside the Berlin Air Show in mid-May – gave scientists, policy-makers, industry professionals and a small gathering of university students the chance to discuss measures for boosting this vital sector's labour market.
|Students on campus at the University of Birmingham (UK)|
© Source: Peter Gutierrez
Euroavia's mission is to promote greater contact between industry and graduates at the national and international levels throughout Europe. Membership gives students real-world experience and networking possibilities beyond the walls of academia. “Our non-profit organisation places emphasis on European co-operation,” notes Ristori.
This 45-year-old association offers students from 30 cities in 19 European countries opportunities to meet and forge valuable ties with their peers but, most importantly, with potential future employers. But therein lies a problem, notes Ristori, if industry and businesses are not prepared to support students earlier in their careers.
Outlining her group's activities and needs, she urged more support from industry and institutions for students' organisations. “Contacts between students and industry are very important in considering our educational and career options,” the 21-year-old aerospace engineering student told Headlines in Berlin. What surprises her the most is the lack of interest by industry shown in aeronautics students.
“Personally, I think this is very strange because students are the future of industries,” she comments. Of course, her association is doing its best with meagre funds to raise the profile of students in the European and international aerospace sector. Among other activities, it arranges gatherings, such as the annual ‘Formation Workshop' to prepare graduates for a competitive labour market, as well as projects aimed specifically at helping young engineers (EYE).
The one-week workshop includes lectures on economics, project management, how to improve communication skills, and what it is like to work in an international team. “I think knowing all this before starting their careers is very important for students,” Ristori asserts.
The Union is keen to further strengthen its aerospace industry through research and innovation under its Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) for research. When ACARE was set up in mid-January 2001, it was given the task of developing and implementing a strategic approach to European aeronautics research.
Euroavia, EU sources