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Aviation Skills Shortage: How to Hire In Covid

  • by: Adrian Mansfield
  • On: 10, Nov 2021
4 min read

The Aviation sector has long suffered a chronic skills shortage: before Covid-19, 2 in 5 industry leaders marked recruiting skilled workers as their most significant business challenge. Boeing had forecasted pilot vacancies to double in the next seven years, with over 70,000 new technicians urgently required to fulfil demand at the same time. Skilled aviation engineering professionals are leaving the sector and moving into mechanical engineering, building services, IT, and a host of other less coronavirus-impacted industries.

Aviation Engineering Professionals Industry Survey,” surveyed nearly 4,000 respondents in the UK and across Europe, in job categories such as B1 & B2 Licensed Engineers, Aircraft Fitters/Mechanics, Sheet Metal Workers, to learn that 38% have moved to an industry outside of aviation. Former technicians have settled in jobs for similar pay, less responsibility and experience for roles that increased in demand due to Covid-19 such as Logistics & Delivery Drivers.

The pandemic negatively affected admission numbers for aircraft maintenance apprenticeships and many MROs lost people through redundancy, furlough, and early retirement. Industry leaders were forced to make some difficult decisions and many older aircraft maintenance professionals decided to retire rather than wait out the uncertainty. As we slowly emerge from the pandemic, there is a noticeable lack of workforce.

What can employers do to continue securing the best talent in the aviation industry?

New Approach to Talent Attraction

Business leaders and hiring managers can turn their attention to headhunting experienced individuals who are already in work – albeit with a slightly different skill set. Individuals with expertise in design, production, manufacturing, build and maintenance will often be able to transfer their skill sets to Complementary sectors with the potential to offer relevant talent include:

  • Automotive – Formula One pit crew and prototyping teams thrive in fast-paced environments where safety and performance must simultaneously be prioritised
  • Marine – Skills required for pilots and aircraft engineers are similar to those taught in the maritime industry.
  • Engineering – From architecture and IT to quality assurance and supply chain operations, trained Engineers have a wealth of design and manufacturing skills.
  • Energy – Building and maintaining wind turbines require similar abilities to the build and maintenance of aircraft, and the ability to think calmly under pressure and pinpoint focus in potentially hazardous situations well positions those working in Oil & Gas and Nuclear Power for other vocations.

Apprenticeships & Engaging Young People 

Apprenticeships are not only a way to engage young people looking for their first role but are also an innovative route into finding and securing talent from other industries. In today’s economy with over 200 applicants on average for every job role, and particularly in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis, many individuals will be evaluating their lives and wanting to pursue their passion – without investing much-needed money into university degrees or lengthy courses. Skilled engineers, technicians and skilled staff from other industries can begin an Aviation apprenticeship that fully utilises their existing skillset and experience – giving them an advantage over younger Apprentices – whilst providing them with a starting salary and structured financial package.

Pilot apprenticeships have been increasing in popularity in recent years and proving particularly successful with applicants older than the usual teenage Apprentices, who have previous experience in demanding STEM career paths. Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, EasyJet and TUI operate accessible training programmes for those at any age, either at entry-level or requiring A-Levels or equivalent. Qantas is investing $15million into a pilot school, and Emirates has already opened a $135million flight academy to train the next generation, evidencing the appetite for Aerospace Apprentices and their success so far in building talent.

Finding talent in young people will also help to bridge the skills gap for the next generation. Recruiting from an early age enables the acquiring of talent from other industries before they have a chance to access the same talent pools. Those who work in Aviation know that the industry offers a vast variety of exciting career opportunities – but many of the next generations are completely unaware that these careers exist.

In a globally connected world where students are bombarded with choices and expected to make life-changing decisions from an early age, the technical industries need to shout louder to reach potential engineers and technicians before they are lost to the sector.

Partnering with schools, colleges, and universities to better market industry careers, communicating directly with young people themselves and using these insights to inform recruitment strategies are the beginning of the solution to the skills shortage.

Utilise Training to Gain Attention 

The exodus of well-trained experienced staff is an ongoing worry in the aviation industry with former industry experts arguing that training standards have slipped in priorities with industry leaders focusing on Covid-19 crisis management and finances. Budgeting for training has significantly decreased meaning that new starters in the industry are not getting the training they require, types are not being actively renewed and employees are seeing no further benefit of staying in the industry. 

Investing in training can make companies stand out from the tough competition for skilled professionals and continue to keep aviation safety as a priority. Where there is a lack of training, there will be a future lack of skill. By making training a priority it helps to reduce the impact of this problem. Another way to overcome such problems or temporary shortages is cross-training where companies can shift people around “skills on-demand” providing they obtain the proper licenses and certifications to do the task.

Using Recruitment Companies with Wider Talent Pools

42% of industry leaders identify an Aerospace labour shortage in the maintenance technician field as the most urgent industry challenge in 2018. Global demand for Aerospace skills is set to overtake supply by 2027. With the sector forced to think creatively and innovate like never before, industry leaders are beginning to look to other technical and Engineering industries to access and build new talent.

Partnering with a recruitment company that specialises in Aerospace & Aviation jobs can offer unique insight into the wants, needs and situations of potential talent, and help your business create a bespoke plan to reach new talent pools in the locations you require.

Here’s how to create a sustainable workforce in the UAE

Are you looking to grow your team or staff a new project? Look at our Aviation Recruitment Solutions.

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