The pandemic and the related effects of many layoffs and furloughs have left the aviation industry struggling to find skilled and qualified personnel to meet the ever-increasing demand for flights. This is Jim Scott from a UK supplier of aircraft components Artemis Aerospace presents its views on how the industry can build momentum in highlighting careers in the sector and tackling the growing gap in relevant skills sets.
Earlier this year, there was a major furor when airlines were forced to cancel numerous flights due to staff shortages. Although the shortfall was largely due to staff illness, much of the blame was laid squarely at the feet of the airlines, which were accused of creating jam-packed flight schedules they knew they could not meet.
However, the problem of staff shortages is much deeper than a disease or even a pandemic. It is true that the pandemic has been a catalyst for thousands of employees to leave the industry, and thus many have made a conscious decision never to return, citing job insecurity as an important reason for this decision. In reality, the aviation industry has seen a decline in the number of skilled workers in all positions for many years.
Research by GOOSE Recruitment in partnership with FlightGlobal found that in 2019, strong global demand for aviation services meant that many regions, including China, South America and North America, experienced acute skills shortages in the supply of experienced flight crew, and that was the case for almost two decades. It also found that despite the effects of the pandemic, 43% of pilots surveyed believed there would not be enough experienced pilots to meet demand in five years.
The problem is not only for pilots and flight crew. A 2017 study by Oliver Wyman’s MRO (maintenance, repair and operations) study found that there is an acute shortage of skilled technicians in the aviation industry and that demand far exceeds the number of workers needed to meet the requirements.
At the time, an Oliver Wyman MRO survey also claimed that 42% of industry leaders identified the maintenance technician labor shortage as the most pressing issue in the aerospace and aviation sector and that global demand is set to exceed supply by 2027. They identified two key reasons for this: a lack of interest in aviation on the part of the younger workforce and an aging workforce that is creating a gap that is not being filled.
There is clearly a need for greater industry-wide collaboration to reach young people in more targeted, creative and compelling ways that inspire them to pursue a career in aviation. Disadvantaged groups and minorities are also incredibly valuable sources of talent.
Public awareness programmes, school visits and presentations, registration incentives, open days and workshops are all ways to increase the capacity and ability to attract new talent to the aviation sector.
There are many hiring options for young entrants in the industry, and communicating them is key. While traditionally many young people may have only considered becoming a pilot or taking on a flight crew role, young adults need to look far more closely at other less important opportunities such as technician and air traffic control positions.
One way the UK can achieve this is by increasing the number of apprentices and graduates in the UK workforce. Airbus, along with other major companies including Atkins, MBDA and Babcock, have committed to QinetiQ’s ‘5% Club’, which commits to giving 5% of its total UK workforce to apprentices, sponsored students and/or graduates. program.
In 2021, two new aviation training standards were approved: customer service operator and ground handler. They provide direct entry into the sector and vital operational knowledge that will assist further progress.
In the US, Tulsa Tech, which offers courses and classes for training and development of the aviation workforce, used a strategy of community outreach programs to reach elementary and middle school students with the goal of getting them interested at a young age. . In addition to visiting schools, Tulsa Tech regularly hosts open houses at their facilities, hosting various meetings and events to raise awareness of the courses they offer to incoming students.
Harnessing the power of social media is critical to bringing attention to women, minority groups, and people from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Women in International Aviation initiative is actively using social media to reach out to young women, while highlighting the wide range of opportunities on offer and encouraging them to seek roles without limits.
One example is Kenya’s Irene Koki Mutungi, Africa’s first female Boeing 787 Dreamliner captain, who uses her personal Twitter account to tell the world about women in the industry.
Whoever and wherever they are in the world, attracting new talent takes time, effort and consistent communication at all levels. Only by being the best advocate can the aviation industry take advantage of attracting the next generation of workers and continue to enjoy successful global growth in a very rewarding and exciting industry.
https://www.aviationtoday.com/2022/09/23/opinion-addressing-skills-gap-aviation-industry/ OPINION: Addressing the skills gap in the aviation industry