18 September 2020
By Mary Bermingham
As the airline industry comes to terms with its most difficult years, a new degree course from CIT in Cork has been unveiled to give trainee business skills while skills also.
CIT has enrolled 120 students – all of them commercial pilots – on its innovative Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in International Business with Aviation Studies, a European first. The programme was designed as a platform for pilots, many of whom don’t have the opportunity to avail of 3rd level qualifications due to the nature of their work and the intensity of their initial and ongoing training, to develop skills in business. These skills are intended to aid the pilot’s wider knowledge of the aviation business as well as a wide range of business sectors.
Speaking of the programme Dr Pio Fenton, Head of Marketing and International Business at CIT said “The aviation sector has been one of the hardest hit sectors locally, nationally, and internationally. As an enabling business it is critical that those working in aviation, and the sector itself, are supported so that when the opportunity arises the region can spring back into life as quickly as possible. CIT is determined to do what it can to support this.” Of CIT’s specific initiative, Dr Fenton spoke of the timely contribution to those working as Pilots. “Pilots invest heavily in their careers. The current disruption was unimaginable just 6 months ago. Being able to offer an educational offering that takes account of their specific career needs is something we are very proud of.”
One of the key players nationally in aviation is Cork-based Atlantic Flight Training Academy (www.afta.ie). Led by Captain Mark Casey, the group is a well established, and well-regarded academy for initial training for pilots where 2100 pilots have trained in the last 25 Years. The real-world weather conditions in Cork offers a popular contrast to international bases such as Florida and Spain where flight training is less representative of variable flying conditions. In 2018, AFTA and CIT collaborated on the development of the aviation degree and have continued to work together to ensure that Cork’s contribution to aviation is well understood and acknowledged. Capt Casey says “the development of the degree programme has been transformational for both flight school graduates and experienced professional pilots that do not have the flexibility to attend full time tuition, or scheduled lectures, due to time zone synchronisation and rotating roster barriers. CIT embraced the multiple challenges that this presented to the individual from the ‘get-go’ and have developed and successfully delivered a world class product for the industry. A continuous impetus to enhance and develop the programme by the team at CIT has been the driving force behind the success of the aviation degree course .While the utilisation of online tools and blended learning has become the norm over the past 6 months for all the wrong reasons, CIT have had a 2 year lead in this arena and they should be applauded for being global frontrunners in this field. AFTA’s airline partners, Ryanair and Stobart Air, have also continuously helped to promote the opportunity to their Captains and First officers ”. The programme was also supported by the Aviation SKillnet.
Dr Barry O’Connor, President of CIT spoke of their commitment to ensuring that the pillars of the aviation sector in Cork are not forgotten in this time of upheaval. “Cork Airport is the most critical piece of transport infrastructure in the Munster region. The multi-national company base in Cork has developed so powerfully as a result partly of the direct and gateway opportunities that Cork Airport offers to the world. For Cork to succeed, Cork Airport has to succeed. It will be critical to this region in the years to come and it must be enabled to unlock the continued potential of the region. The work of the Aviation Task Force, which reported in July, must be built upon.”
CIT’s work in aviation programmes is a sign of CIT’s responsiveness to industry needs. Dr O’Connor continued “CIT continues to support the career needs of the people of Cork and beyond. While we have an established reputation in many area, our ability to provide this offering attests to our proximity to Munster’s industrial and commercial base. As CIT joins with IT Tralee to become Munster Technological University we will double down on our engagement with industry.”