Cherokee Nation and Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology have entered into a formal education agreement.
The partnership will help Cherokee Nation citizens access training for careers as pilots or aviation technicians. Spartan Executive Vice President Dan Bregman said there’s a definite need for pilots, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the problem.
"Almost all of the airlines are canceling flights or are not adding flights because they just don’t have the staff. And so, if there’s ever been a time to get involved in the aviation industry, that time is now," Bregman said in a video announcing the partnership.
A 2020 survey by Boeing estimates North America needs 129,000 new commercial pilots in the next two decades.
Spartan Director of Education Cecil Cummings, a Cherokee citizen, said rapidly advancing technology means there are a lot more opportunities in aviation than flying of fixing airplanes.
"Flying cars, drones — I mean, drones are becoming a huge part of normal, everyday life. The need is so great that it's hard to keep up with," Cummings said in a video announcing the partnership.
Spartan will work directly with Sequoyah High School to introduce Cherokee youths to the aviation industry, as well as reaching out to high school graduates who may still be looking for a career.
"Cherokee Nation has a commitment to education, and as our deputy chief reminds me all the time, we need to look at the whole of education. College education, vocational training, any career path that can get a Cherokee into a job so that he or she can live in the community that they want to, lead a good quality of life," Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said in a video announcing the partnership.
Cherokee Nation and Spartan College signed the agreement on Thursday in Tahlequah. Because of COVID-19 precautions, it was not open to the public or reporters.