Yuut Elitnaurviat is opening an aircraft mechanic training program with its first cohort beginning February 2019. (Photo by Anna Rose MacArthur/KYUK)Airplanes connect rural Alaska to the world, and all those planes need mechanics to maintain and fix them. The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta has a severe shortage of aircraft mechanics, and it’s expected that a shortage will soon be felt across the world’s airline industry. A new Bethel training program wants to fill the gap with local workers.Listen nowInside a bright white hanger at the airport sits a fleet of small, multi-colored airplanes.“We have Cessnas. We have Pipers. We have a Bonanza, a Navajo Chieftain, we have a Cherokee 140,” Mike Hoffman, executive director at Yuut Elitnaurviat, said as he pointed around the hanger.These are some of the most common planes flown in the region. Yuut Elitnaurviat is the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta’s adult workforce development program, and it’s opening an aircraft mechanic school in Bethel. Hoffman takes pride in that many of the program’s planes, and the resources to get them there, were donated.“I went up to McGrath and took the wings off that blue one that’s in the back there with my brother Jeff, and threw it on a barge that my other brother was the captain of, and he brought it down for free,” Hoffman said. “It’s just people understanding this school and what it’s going to bring to the region.”What it will bring is local people earning local training to fill critical local jobs in the region of the state that has the lowest per capita income and highest unemployment rate.“Virtually every airline that I know of here is looking for mechanics,” said Keith Henthorn, business manager for regional airline Yute Commuter Service.None of the airline’s mechanics are Bethel residents. Instead, they come from Fairbanks or Anchorage, or even out of state.“You know, I just Tuesday offered a guy from Florida $42 an hour to come up here and be a mechanic for me,” Henthorn shared.Henthorn would rather hire locals and keep that money in the region. He could hire five mechanics today. Local hires would both serve the community and boost the airline’s bottom line. Bringing in outside workers is expensive. It costs flights, housing, and — because of the shortage of employees — overtime. Having fewer mechanics creates less effective airlines. The deficit clogs up the system with grounded planes, delayed flights, backed up freight, and disgruntled passengers.“Our goal is to have 10 aircraft available every day,” Henthorn explained. “Typically, we have eight. Now we still get most of the things flown that we need to get flown. Just makes it for a little bit longer business day than is practical in most environments.”The population of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta is growing, and Yute Commuter Service wants to grow with it. To do that, they’ll need more mechanics, and so will the rest of the region’s airlines. Yuut Elitnaurviat’s aircraft mechanic program can nearly guarantee jobs for graduates. That’s what Programs Director Jeremy Osborne found when he surveyed the regional airlines.“They said if we could turn out magically maybe 300 airplane mechanics, they would probably be able to employ all over the Y-K Delta,” Osborne said. “I mean Ravn [Alaska] and Grant [Aviation] are not just in the Y-K Delta. They have Nome, Unalakleet, all the villages up there.”Graduates could work anywhere. Over the next two decades, Boeing predicts North America will need 189,000 more aircraft mechanics. Worldwide, Boeing forecasts the demand will reach 754,000. A national shortage of aircraft mechanics is expected to appear in four years as baby boomers retire, and the U.S. Senate has recognized the problem. This spring, the Senate passed a bill to provide half a million dollars to aircraft mechanic programs like Yuut Elitnaurviat’s.It could be said that when it comes to job opportunity and security in this field, well, the sky’s the limit.“You could go down to Anchorage. You could go down to Texas,” Osborne said. “You could go anywhere, and this credential follows you.”The first cohort of mechanics begins February 2019 and runs a year and a half. If you’re interested in applying for Yuut Elitnaurviat’s aviation maintenance program, call 907-543-0999.
In my 8 years as an FP&A professional, I have rarely seen a company be able to fully align its financial modeling with how the business actually proceeds. Larger or public companies may struggle to bridge compliance reporting with how their general managers want to run each business segment. Smaller companies may struggle to keep their forecasts up-to-date with the rapidly changing environment.Basically, what I’ve learned is that no matter how detailed your budget or forecast is, the situation will change and alternative views will be required. This is especially true for younger companies that are trying to establish themselves in a market and are experiencing growth. In these cases, a high-level plug-and-play forecast model should be used to highlight the most critical assumptions to the business and eliminate the noise.If the model is structured correctly, it can be the primary tool used by management to identify business metrics that impact the bottom line, to adapt the company’s financial projections, and to react accordingly.Below are four steps to adopt a lean financial forecasting approach that is flexible and less time-consuming, yet can still serve as a management tool to steer a growing company.1) Understand the difference between plans, budgets, and forecastsThese terms are often used interchangeably, but there are distinct differences. Generally speaking, here is how they can be defined:A plan is what you want to achieve in terms of milestones in a given timeframe.A budget is how you want to deploy your resources in order to achieve the above plan and desired financial position. This is usually very detailed and does not change throughout the year. In a rapidly growing company, a budget can quickly become obsolete.A forecast is what the company will actually achieve based on the most realistic scenario. It is typically less detailed than a budget but updated more frequently. This is the focus of this article, as it can better equip you to react to changes in the business.2) Simplify your financial forecast model and project both bottom line and cashThe more complicated the model is, the less you will use it. The key for financial forecasting, especially for younger growing companies, is to understand your cash flow, not just the income statement. So take your detailed budget model and strip it down to a leaner forecast model like the one provided here. This will give you a good idea of your working capital, and you can update it quickly, primarily through a handful of income statement assumptions, which most companies are familiar with.Important line items such as revenue can be built out to include several assumptions (e.g. price x volume). Other variables that are harder to predict or won’t materially change the cash flow should be consolidated into as few line items as possible, or set as a % of a more important variable.3) Identify the variables that are either the most material or most volatile.Most companies know how painful and time-consuming it can be to create a detailed, bottoms-up financial budget with non-financial data (customer acquisition and churn, for example) that support each budget line. Going through that process every time you want an updated forecast isn’t feasible.Don’t waste time over-analyzing assumptions that won’t really move the needle or won’t change. Instead, use your forecast model to identify which levers have the largest impact on growth, margins, and cash, and then track them as often as possible.4) Adopt a rolling financial forecast processEvery day, your business will gain more knowledge and insights on sales, costs, and other key drivers. One new sales contract could completely change the validity of your budget. Whenever these assumptions change, so should your forecast in order to see the impact to the bottom line.Each month gives you the opportunity to adjust how you deploy your resources. If performance is high, then you can ramp up spend. Conversely, if performance is low, you can work to slow activities with heavy cash burn.Be sure to look 3-12 months out, rather than only to the end of the fiscal year. You don’t want to be blind-sided in Q1 of next year because you only looked at the current year!AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to PrintPrintShare to EmailEmailShare to MoreAddThis