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Working in Aviation: 5 Myths and Facts

  • by: Adrian Mansfield
  • On: 26, Aug 2020
6 min read

Following the devastating impact of Covid-19 upon the entire world and the majority of its industries and communities, the job market is predicted to become even more competitive. The coronavirus has seen millions of staff receive redundancies or lose employment contracts, and the UK particularly is expecting one of the worst periods of unemployment – during one of the worst economic recessions – in the past century.

Amongst the doom and gloom, many individuals are now reassessing what they most want from their lives. A new career path could provide the answer to more stability, a more exciting day-to-day job or simply a better quality of life – but with so many options available, how can you choose which vocation is right for you?

Here are five myths about working in the Aerospace & Aviation industry, and five facts to set the record straight.

1. Myth: It’s Too Competitive

Fact: The sector is suffering one of the world’s most urgent skills shortages.

The latest predictions from leading aircraft manufacturer Boeing forecast that the demand for pilots around the world will double in the next seven years alone. In the next 20 years, airlines will need to recruit and train 800,000 new commercial pilots for passenger planes and 98,000 new pilots for private jets.

The skills shortage also extends to the international Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO), which is already experiencing a significant reduction in the hiring of new technicians. More than 2 in 5 (42%) of Aerospace & Aviation leaders say a labour shortage in the maintenance technician field is the most important business problem – ahead of Brexit, climate change and airport capacity – in the next decade.

Whilst an unprecedented challenge for industry CEOs, the shortage of talent presents an excellent opportunity for prospective employees. Recruiters and hiring managers are already looking to expand their sourcing and training programmes to incorporate a wider, younger and more diverse pool of talent than ever before.

2. Myth: You Need a University Degree

Fact: You can join the sector at any stage of your career path.

A popular belief surrounding the industry is that unless you choose and commit to a specific career path at a very young age, you will be locked out of many professional avenues forever. With the Aerospace industry, this is surprisingly not the case. Despite a focus on science, mathematics, technology and engineering, the sector is increasingly welcoming individuals without these skills and training them up themselves instead.

Apprenticeships in the industry are fast becoming a new industry standard – even pilot apprenticeships are available for people of any age and background. Major international airlines like Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, easyJet and TUI are already offering accessible training programmes for those at any age, either at entry level or requiring A Levels or equivalent. Large carrier Qantas is investing $15million into a pilot school, and Emirates has already opened a $135million flight academy, with many other airlines starting to develop their own training programmes that do not require degrees, A Levels, GCSEs or technical qualifications.

Some jobs require specific qualifications and course attainment for safety, which must be regularly updated. These are usually at a low cost which are sponsored by individual employers and take a very small investment of time. Courses such as Electrical Wiring Interconnect Systems (EWIS), Human Factors, Airside Safety and Fuel Tank Safety can all be completed online at a time to suit you.

3. Myth: Your Career Choices are Limited

Fact: There are a wealth of careers in the industry.

Working in Aerospace isn’t a binary choice between pilots and airport staff. The sector is one of the most diverse in terms of the options available to individuals based on their knowledge, skill set, experience and personality. From flying planes to fixing them, from designing new aircraft and crafting airport architecture, to managing global projects and creating websites and social media campaigns, to training and leading large teams of people, the field truly offers something for everyone.

The vast array of jobs in the sector includes, but is not limited to:

  • Production & Manufacturing
  • Project Management
  • Avionics & Engineering
  • Mechanics & Maintenance
  • Architecture & Design
  • Safety & Damage Tolerance
  • Operations
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Ground Support
  • Procurement
  • Captains & First Officers
  • Instructors
  • Professional & Management
  • Chief Executives.

Like many other industries, successful Aviation careers are often built from softer skills rather than technical abilities. Business leaders and recruiters are always on the lookout for potential talent with skills in communication, negotiation, relationship-building and leadership. The ability to work effectively under high-pressure situations and collaborate with people from all ages and backgrounds will ensure a wide range of career choices of anyone in the industry.

4. Myth: It’s Less Exciting than Other Engineering Sectors

Fact: There has never been a more exciting time to join the industry.

With a technological revolution happening all around us, individuals could be forgiven for thinking that well-known tech and engineering companies like Google and Apple are the most interesting places to work. However, whereas major players on the world’s tech stage have already enjoyed their own rapid evolution in the past decade, the Aviation industry is just starting out on its own journey.

The sector is fast investing in the following areas:

  • Embracing Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Smart planes, autonomous and pilot-less airlines, robotics replacing human interactions and increasing safety at airports and onboard
  • Fighting Climate Change – Developing innovative biofuels, green planes, sustainable materials and introducing efficiencies in air traffic control to dramatically reduce carbon footprints and reverse the industry’s environmental impact
  • Working Collaboratively – Forming close partnerships with organisations and industry bodies around the world to create new solutions to decades-old challenges
  • Modernising Flying Experiences – Updating architecture and airport design to improve health and wellbeing, placing mindfulness and psychology at the heart of Aviation whilst facilitating social distancing to protect passengers in pandemics
  • Changing Flight Forever – Creating faster, more efficient airplanes that can fly around the world in only a few hours, connecting people around the world like never before.

Those joining the industry can get straight to work on innovating completely new ideas that will rapidly advance technology and ways of living and working in the next decade, meaning that an Aerospace career will not only provide an exciting day-to-day job and lifelong career but also cement your place in history.

5. Myth: It Only Suits a Specific Type of Person

Fact: The industry is increasingly looking to recruit more diverse people than ever before.

The International Society of Women Airline Pilots reports that only 5% of pilots worldwide are female, and women are significantly underrepresented in the sector. Diversity is also incredibly low in the sector’s engineering and technical workforce: just 9% of the UK’s engineers are women, and despite encompassing over 14% of the UK’s population, only 6% of UK engineers are from BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) backgrounds.

However, many Aviation leaders are passionately committed to improving diversity and inclusion. Most Airlines and MROs are actively looking to hire and recruit female, ethnic minority and other diverse individuals as an answer to the skills shortage, and have set their own ambitious targets to make their companies and the entire industry more diverse and representative of society.

The sector’s unique ways of working are also beneficial for working parents or those with carer responsibilities, and can benefit those with loved ones located in other countries. With different shift patterns across the sector, you can choose your own working pattern, and change the days and hours of your work schedule from one week to the next. Many employers offer a one-week on, one-week off rota to allow plenty of time to travel, visit family and pursue other interests throughout their contract. Contract work can vary from a few weeks to many months or even a couple of years, and permanent or longer-term work is also readily available. A career in this industry can fit around your life and what matters most to you.

Decided that a dynamic career path is for you? Check out the Best Aerospace & Aviation Companies to Work For.

Apply for our latest technical and engineering jobs in Aviation.


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