Photo: HAECOHAECO has had a hard time filling positions with qualified employees. It has brought employees in from out of the region and state, but they tend not to say long.
Plane truth: Plenty of jobs in aircraft maintenance – just not enough skilled workers
Columbia County, in north Florida about an hour west of Jacksonville, is a place of small towns, timberlands and truck stops that extends from the junction of I-10 and I-75 up to the Georgia line. Fewer than one in six residents have college degrees; the median income is a third lower than the state’s as a whole.
A bright spot in the local economy is HAECO Airframe Services, a subsidiary of a Hong Kong-based company that inspects, maintains and repairs commercial jets at the publicly owned Lake City Gateway Airport, which has a half a dozen large hangars and an 8,000-foot runway dating from its days as a U.S. Navy airfield during World War II.
It was big news last summer when Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced that HAECO would expand in Lake City with another 400 jobs. But wanting to expand and being able to expand are two different things. Between July and December of last year, HAECO hired 528 workers, says Mark Snook, general manager of the company’s Lake City operation. But it had to get rid of 179 of them, Snook says, either because they weren’t trained properly or couldn’t handle the work.
ALSO IN THIS ARTICLE: Mark Snook; Kip Blakely; Lawrence Barrett
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