HOUSTON – United Airlines is doing its part to help provide those “aging out” of the foster care system much-needed employment opportunities.
The Calibrate apprenticeship program launched in Houston this year as a 36-month “earn and learn” program to train more than 1,000 aircraft maintenance technicians by 2026, with the goal of at least half being women or people of color.
On the heels of that successful launch and with May being National Foster Care Awareness Month, on Saturday, United welcomed more than a dozen young adults in foster care to George Bush Intercontinental Airport to learn more about careers in aviation.
In a release, United noted that, in the state of Texas, once you reach the age of 18 you are legally classified as an adult and Child Protective Services no longer has control of your decision making. When this happens, it is referred to as a person ‘aging out’ of the system. The caveat is often the young people who ‘age out’ face unique challenges as it relates to finances, familial support, or a place of residence or shelter, in addition to the possible struggles of trying to establish a stable job or career path.
Aubrey Jackson, corporate communications manager for United Airlines in Houston, is an adoptee who knows the value of having available resources.
“My adoption happened at birth, and I have a close understanding of how hard it can be for this population of young people. Especially at a time when many are about to embark on adulthood with a lot to consider at such a pivotal point in their lives,” Jackson said. “Knowing this, I wanted to expose them to opportunities in aviation and be a supportive force in helping them navigate towards a path of success.”
United continues to invest in the next generation of aviation leaders by partnering with Houston Angels, a local nonprofit that aids youth aging out of foster care. The aviation giant and the nonprofit teamed up to hold an informative tour at George Bush Intercontinental Airport where young people preparing to embark on adulthood were exposed to the various opportunities available.
“At Houston Angels, we believe that every single one of us has a role to play in changing the way children, youth, and families experience foster care. Statistically, only 50% of former foster youth will be employed at age 24, and 1 in 5 foster youth become homeless when they turn 18,” said Hana Woyt, executive director of Houston Angels. “This tour is an amazing opportunity for youth to see the many different avenues of possibility in the aviation industry - and it may actually be their first visit to an airport! We know the statistics around outcomes for youth who age out of care can be bleak - but that is exactly what we are here to change with the support of our community and partners like Aubrey and the United Airlines team.”
During the tour, the youth were exposed to internships, in addition to full time and part time positions. They also were given the opportunity to hear from aircraft maintenance technicians, customer service agents, and staff from the Houston Airport System to hear what it’s like to work in airport construction.
“As airports around the country go through significant infrastructure upgrades, sharing insights about the exciting opportunities in the aviation construction industry is a gratifying endeavor for our subject matter experts,” said Augusto Bernal, director of communications with Houston Airports. “Sharing those insights with the Houston Angels is even more special because these talented young minds would certainly add value to the industry, and we would be lucky to have them.”
To learn more about career opportunities with United, please visit careers.united.com
To learn more about Houston Angels and how to support their Dare-To-Dream program that connects youth in care (age 11-22) to a dedicated mentor to guide and support them through their journey into adulthood, visit (houangels.org).