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A sprinkle of pixie dust.

AAR relies on a sprinkling of "pixie dust" to help persuade students, their parents and teachers that manufacturing jobs aren't what they used to be.

Last fall, AAR held one of its "exposure events" for Miami Central High School students at Miami International Airport, where the company has a repair station for commercial aircraft and an off-airfield repair and maintenance facility for landing gear.

For these events AAR hires motor coaches, not school buses, to take students to its facilities. "They want to think they're rock stars," says Greg Dellinger, director of recruiting. So the company treats them like stars, with a big welcome from members of AAR's "Great Place to Work" teams.

At an event, "I'm there. I'm passing out American flags. We take them to the conference room that is ready with food. High school students are hungry all the time," he says.

Then there's a series of presentations--that's where what Dellinger calls the pixie dust comes in: "We invite the deputy mayor and sports stars from the Miami area," to talk with the students.

There are no hard-sell pitches during the presentations he adds, because "young people are sold to all the time" and don't respond well to that approach.

After the presentations, AAR representatives take groups of students through the facilities, along with a videographer to record the event for the participants--and for promoting skilled manufacturing jobs to other groups. The tour is "loud, exciting. It's very different," Dellinger says. "We have senior workers who are well trained and well educated involved in the tours."

Later, after more food, there's an overview and a question-and-answer session. "We have prizes for students who ask questions. A T-shirt can take you a long way" in boosting student enthusiasm.

AAR's partnership with each school continues after an exposure event, according to Dellinger. Next up at Miami Central is an aviation career fair in the school gym.

And after every event, "We always tell the students: 'If you are interested, write us. Show us your enthusiasm,'" Dellinger says. He admits that few students follow up, but when they do show the enthusiasm that AAR is looking for "they are the ones who are rewarded" with internships and other opportunities.

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Title Annotation:Breaking Barriers; enrolling in a technical institute
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2013
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