Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) Holding and Japan Airlines (JAL) Engineering Company have partnered to launch a scholarship program for flight mechanics to address a shortage of aircraft mechanics, with demand anticipated to grow.
JAL Engineering Company is a subsidiary of JAL in charge of aircraft maintenance. Together with ANA Holding, it will offer up to JPY 500,000 ($3,500) annually in interest free tuition to those enrolled at nine designated training schools across Japan beginning the fiscal year of 2024 onwards.
A report by Japanese media outlet Japan Weekend stated that up to 100 students per grade entering the nine schools will be eligible for the scholarship. Screenings will be conducted if scholarship applicants exceed that number.
Scholarship recipients will be required to pay back the tuition fees within eight years of completing the program. Fees can be waived if scholars secure employment with JAL or ANA and if they are able to obtain necessary national certifications.
ANA and JAL believe that the pathway offers students the ability to enter the industry without the burden of significant debt.
The two companies have also opened the scholarship program to other airlines in order to give broader support to the industry.
“Securing human resources is an industry-wide issue. We made a move looking several years into the future,” Ryo Tamura, President at JAL Engineering, said in a press statement.
Toshihiro Miyamae, Executive Vice President at ANA, said: “We hope to alleviate [students’] financial burden as much as possible.”
The scholarship aims to resolve the decline in the number of aircraft mechanics in Japan due to retirement coupled with dwindling enrollment numbers at training schools.