COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- Over the next 20 years, nearly 500,000 new pilots will be needed to fill the global demand that's forecast for the aviation industry. One reason for the shortage is that young people weren't interested in getting into the industry in the 1990s and 2000s when airlines were struggling financially and laying off employees.
"There really wasn't much of an encouragement for youth to get into the industry," said Seth Young, director of Aviation Studies at Ohio State University.
Now the pilots are getting older and starting to retire, but there's not many ready to step up and take their place. The military, which trained a lot of pilots in the mid-20th century, isn't training pilots in numbers like they used to.
The idea is to use flight simulators and other programs to get school children interested again. Computer-based flight simulators are becoming more popular and Young says they're more than just a toy.
"We actually use these flight simulators in our training so we see students that have had interest through their youth actually be a little ahead of the curve when it comes to flight training."
The Ohio economy could also stand to benefit from a boost in the aviation industry. The state is the number 1 and 2 suppliers to Boeing and Airbus when it comes to building these aircraft," Young said.
Ohio also has more than 80 public-use airport, universities that have flight-training programs, and a central spot on the map.
"We are the birthplace of aviation," he said.
The initiative also includes scholarships, extracurricular program, and hands-on experiences to help supply the pipeline for students to launch their careers.