OPINION: Closing the skills gap in the aviation industry

(Photo: Artemis Aerospace)

The pandemic and the associated fallout of numerous layoffs and furloughs have left the aviation industry struggling to find qualified and qualified personnel to meet the ever-increasing demand for flights. Here, Jim Scott of UK-based aircraft component supplier Artemis Aerospace gives his perspective on how the industry can build momentum by highlighting careers in the sector and tackling the growing relevant skills gap.

Earlier this year there was a lot of fury when airlines were forced to cancel many flights due to a lack of staff. While the shortage was largely due to staff illness, much of the blame was placed on airlines, which were accused of creating hectic flight schedules they knew they could not meet.

However, the problem of staff shortages goes much deeper than the disease or even the pandemic. It is true that the pandemic was a catalyst for thousands of employees to leave the industry and as a result many made a conscious decision never to return, citing job insecurity as the primary reason for this. decision. In fact, the aviation industry has been experiencing a decline in the number of skilled workers in all occupations 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, were experiencing a serious skills shortage in the supply of experienced staff. the flight crew, and that had been the case for almost two decades. He also revealed that, despite the impact of the pandemic, 43% of pilots surveyed believed there would not be enough experienced pilots to meet demand five years from now.

The problem is not isolated to pilots or flight crew. Research conducted in 2017 by Oliver Wyman’s MRO (maintenance, repair and operations) survey showed that there was an urgent shortage of skilled technicians in the aviation industry and that the demand far exceeded the number of workers necessary to meet the needs.

At that time, the Oliver Wyman MRO survey also indicated that 42% of industry leaders identified a shortage of maintenance technician labor as the most pressing challenge in the aerospace sector. and aviation and that global demand is expected to exceed supply by 2027. They identified two main reasons for this: a lack of interest in aviation among young talent and a aging work creating a gap that was not filled.

It is clear that there needs to be greater collaboration across the industry to reach young people in more targeted, creative and compelling ways that will inspire them to seek a career in aviation. Disadvantaged and minority groups are also incredibly valuable sources of talent.

Community outreach programs, school tours and lectures, enrollment incentives, open houses and workshops are all ways in which the aviation sector can improve its capacity and opportunities to attract new talent.

There are many recruiting options for young people entering the industry, and communicating them is essential. While many young people have traditionally only considered becoming a pilot or taking on a flight crew role, other lesser opportunities, such as technician and air traffic controller positions, must be much sought after. more widely evident in young adults.

One way to achieve this in the UK is to increase the recruitment of apprentices and graduates into the UK workforce. Airbus, along with other major companies including Atkins, MBDA and Babcock, have committed to QinetiQ’s ‘5% Club’, which pledges that 5% of its total UK workforce will be made up of a formalized apprentice, a sponsored student and/or a graduate. program.

In 2021, two new apprenticeship standards were approved for aviation: Aviation Customer Service Agent and Ground Handler. These provide direct entry into the industry and vital operational knowledge to facilitate future progression.

In the United States, Tulsa Tech, which offers an aviation-related workforce training and development curriculum and courses, used a strategy of community outreach programs to reach school students primary and secondary schools with the aim of arousing their interest at a young age. . In addition to school tours, Tulsa Tech regularly hosts open houses at its facilities, hosting various meetings and events to publicize the courses they offer to aspiring students.

Harnessing the power of social media has been key in reaching women, minority groups and people from disadvantaged backgrounds. The action group, Women in Aviation International, is actively using social media to reach young girls while highlighting the wide range of opportunities available and encouraging them to pursue roles without limits.

One example is Kenyan Irene Koki Mutungi, Africa’s first female captain of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, who uses her personal Twitter account to speak to the world about women in the industry.

Whoever and wherever you are in the world, attracting new talent takes time, effort and consistent communication at all levels. Only by being its own best advocate can the aviation industry reap the benefits of attracting the next generation of workers and continue to enjoy successful global growth in a very rewarding and exciting industry.

Jim Scott began working in the aviation industry in 1989. Ten years later, with a desire to promote excellent customer service and exceed expectations, Jim launched Artemis Aerospace.
Jim oversees the management of all client accounts and leads the strategic and business development of Artemis.

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