JetBlue seeks diverse students and those from non-aviation backgrounds

The US airline is offering a range of training programmes to attract more diverse talent

JetBlue is diversifying its pipeline of qualified pilots and maintenance technicians via training programmes that target underrepresented groups and provide financial support.

Their suite of programmes, JetBlue Gateways, offer “seven distinct education and training paths” to becoming a JetBlue pilot or maintenance technician. This year, 12% of JetBlue’s new hire pilots came through one of these non-traditional programmes, building a pipeline of talent from various backgrounds.

The programmes by the US airline include Gateway Select, a training programme for candidates with no prior flight experience. They successfully placed its first 28 pilots this summer with many coming from different professional backgrounds including teaching and project management.

JetBlue also partners with aviation college and university programmes to provide flight majors with an opportunity to apply for pilot positions with JetBlue, while still in college.

This programme, known as Gateway University, has expanded to include eleven partner schools and has added four new aviation colleges to the programme in 2021, including the first historically black college and university (HBCU), Hampton University.

Warren Christie, Head of Safety, Security, and Fleet Operations, JetBlue said: “When we first announced Gateway Select, it was a radical new concept in the United States. We’ve proven that with the right selection criteria and our structured training approach, we can move highly trained and qualified pilots into the flight deck.

“What’s even more exciting is that we see growing participation from underrepresented communities with women and people of colour making up more than 53% of our Gateway Select classes, either in training or currently flying for JetBlue.

“This growing diversity which far exceeds industry averages is not only more reflective of the communities we serve, it shows the value and potential of expanding our search for tomorrow’s aviation professionals.”

Christie continued: “These programmes open the door to training, but one of the biggest hurdles for our crewmembers is often the cost of education. We don’t want money to be the roadblock for crewmembers who dream of being a pilot or technician.

“We have established partnerships with financial institutions where JetBlue backs most or all of a candidate’s student loans, making financing accessible to many more people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to secure a loan for flight training. With access to funding and a job commitment at the end of the process, we are able to break down the biggest barriers to these rewarding aviation professions.”

To find out more about JetBlue Gateways, click here.
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