Flightdeck seminar broadens students’ horizons

A recent seminar at Ashcroft High School gave more than 200 students a taste of the various career pathways on offer in aviation. We spoke to Joyce Choucair, Head Teacher Careers for the Liverpool Cluster, and Claire Delaney from Flightdeck Consulting to find out more about the event and why it’s not all about Badgery’s Creek.

Image: Students hearing about opportunities in aviation

It’s not unusual for students to associate the aviation industry with only a handful of career paths. It’s also fairly common for people to assume that you need a tertiary education to enjoy a rewarding career in aviation.

On Wednesday 24 March, both misconceptions were well and truly debunked at a seminar run by Flightdeck Consulting, a Sydney-based company that helps people pursue careers in aviation. The brainchild of Joyce Choucair, (Head Teacher Careers, Liverpool Cluster), the Flightdeck event came about thanks to some great networking.

Liz Young, an employment officer within Liverpool Council is on our Careers Immersion Team.  She is passionate about promoting Local Jobs for Local People and is very proactive in supporting young people and supporting our schools,'' says Joyce when we caught up to discuss the event.

After Liz put Joyce in touch with Claire Delaney from Flightdeck, a plan was quickly hatched to create an event for students from the Liverpool Cluster of schools involved in the Educational Pathways Pilot Program (EPPP).

“The event was pitched as a way for students to find out about the different career options available in the aviation industry,” says Joyce, noting that the EPPP funded the event, bused students in and covered the cost of casual teaching staff so that teachers could accompany their students.

While careers-focused events are typically targeted towards students in Year 9 and above, the Flightdeck seminar was open to all. Gail Tucker, the Careers Adviser at Liverpool Boys High School, even brought along some really keen Year 7s.

“It was a case of ‘come one, come all,’” says Joyce.

“Some of these students have no idea what opportunities are available to them, so it was great to be able to show them.”

They quickly discovered you don’t need to go to university to have a successful career in the aviation field.

“It’s a misconception that you need a tertiary qualification for a career in aviation,” says Claire emphatically.

“It’s such an operational industry and a lot of the training takes place on the job.”

To illustrate the point, Amelia Tsavilis talked to students about the various paths to becoming a pilot, and university barely rated a mention. Likewise Holly Bryant, Tower Controller from Airservices Australia discussed the process of becoming an air traffic controller. Again, tertiary qualifications aren’t required. That’s not to say that students can expect to not do any further training if they want to pursue these careers. Both jobs do involve a fair amount of training beyond school, and aspiring air traffic controllers will need to complete Year 12. However, a lot of that training takes place on the job, a revelation that piqued the interest of many of the students in attendance.

“Rather than just highlight the various jobs that are available, we show the pathways that students can take to get those jobs,” says Claire, noting the importance of proper career planning.

As a result, 225 students left the seminar with a good idea of the jobs on offer and, more importantly, what they’ll need to do if they want to pursue them. Given what’s happening in South-west Sydney at the moment, there will be plenty of opportunities for today’s students to look at over the next few years.

With Western Sydney Airport set to open in late 2026, students from the Liverpool Cluster of EPPP schools are uniquely positioned to benefit from the jobs that will be created in the region. Interestingly, some of those jobs are already coming online. For example, Stevan Sipka from Western Sydney Airport talked to students about the construction opportunities the airport has created.

That said, the Flightdeck seminar wasn’t all about the airport formerly known as Badgery’s Creek.

While there’s no doubt that Western Sydney Airport is good news for young people from the area, it’s also true that there are skills shortages in aviation today that need to be addressed. As we emerge from the impact of the pandemic on international travel, there is already strong demand for quality candidates in engineering, IT and maintenance. Both Claire and Joyce are keen to make students aware of these opportunities.

“My goal is to show students the pathways so that they can have an informed approach to pursuing their careers,” says Joyce.

“Overall, we achieved what we set out to do with the Flighdeck seminar. I wanted to have a big event where students, teachers and careers advisers could come and find out about the various job opportunities in aviation, and we achieved that.”

A true team event, the Flightdeck seminar was supported by the following staff from EPPP schools in the Liverpool Cluster:

  • Petar Matic, Careers Adviser, Ashcroft High School
  • Soon Kwon, Careers Adviser, Talitha Narayan and David Hernandez, Year Advisers, and Amko Suljevic, Transition Adviser, James Busby High School
  • Gail Tucker, Careers Adviser, and Kim Bertoia, School Support Officer, Liverpool Boys High School
  • Mariane Benetiz, Careers Adviser, and Anjani Singh, Transition Adviser, Miller Technology High School
  • Skills
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