Taking off - Big expansion plans for aviation college

AN aviation engineering training college which has already seen 1400 students graduate from its Tamworth base is set to expand to attract more international and domestic students.

The move by the former Australiasian Pacific Aeronautical College (APAC), which has been rebranded as AviSkills, is seen as an important step in building a bigger aviation-related industry at the Tamworth Regional Airport.

AviSkills is working to make itself more recognisable internationally so it can attract more students, both nationally and internationally, to its aviation engineering courses.

Head teacher Russell Hodgkins said no changes would be made to the teaching delivery of AviSkills’ successful courses, which include aviation engineering and aviation structural mechanics, but it was hoped under the new brand the services would attract more students.

Since it opened in the city more than 1400 people have graduated from APAC/AviSkills courses. 

Another 140 students are enrolled to study courses through AviSkills next year. 

AviSkills chairman Charles McCarthy said the rebranding of APAC and the launch of the AviSkills brand marked a new direction for the organisation. 

“The global aviation market is in need of hundreds of thousands of new technical staff in the next 20 years,” he said. 

“To meet that need AviSkills has a wonderful multi-million dollar facility at Tamworth airport to train young people to become aeronautical engineers.”

Most of AviSkills’ students come from the New England, North West and the Hunter regions, and gain apprenticeships with some of Australia’s biggest aviation and defence companies.

Mr McCarthy said part of the reason for the change was to continue to attract students from diverse backgrounds to the city to study. 

He said he hoped, in the future, the rebranding of the organisation would result in increased student and teacher numbers and, the retention of more aviation industry specialists in Tamworth. 

“We have a dedicated and highly experienced TAFE teaching staff through our partnership with TAFE New England and a very high course completion success rate,” he said.

“In fact, over 90 per cent of our students complete the course and students walk away with a very valuable qualification that should set them up for a good career in aviation, anywhere.”

Mr McCarthy said attracting students from Asia and South East Asia to study with AviSkills would form a large part of the rebranding strategy. 

AviSkills was officially established in 2002 in Tamworth in response to national and international shortages of skilled and qualified aviation engineering staff. 

AviSkills partners with TAFE NSW New England Institute, Qantaslink, Tamworth Regional Council, BAE Systems, McCarthy Consultants and Harris Solicitors. 

Yesterday’s rebranding launch  included speeches from Doug Nancarrow, editor of Aviation Business magazine, and Vice Marshall (retired) John Quaife, general manager of BAE Systems Aviation Solutions.

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