The skilled aviation professional shortfall presents a growing concern

Aviation Mechanic

Bouncing back from the economic crisis of 2008- 2009 the aviation industry is experiencing growth again due to a strengthening global economy, industrialisation in emerging new markets and most recently a drop in oil prices but the growing shortage in skilled engineers and pilots presents a new concern for the industry.

The global economic crisis resulted in a wave of job losses and cut backs across the aviation and tourism industry as demand fell. Job cuts meant many skilled workers went on to train in new careers, not looking to return to the industry.

Today the aviation industry is back on the rise. The greatest area of growth being experienced in Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East due to rapid industrialisation alongside the booming low cost carrier market.

By 2034 the five fastest-increasing markets in terms of additional passengers per year will be China (856 million new passengers), the US (559 million), India (266 million), Indonesia (183 million) and Brazil (170 million). IATA Report

Suffice it to say the industry needs to balance this projected growth with skilled aviation operating staff, including engineers, pilots, ground and air traffic control along with sufficient infrastructure to maintain consistent safety and security standards.

Having lost so many skilled workers during the economic downturn even specialist aviation recruitment specialists are struggling to fill the gap and meet the growing demand. The industry is also finding that there are fewer people choosing a career in aviation.

The ICAO reports ‘In the next 20 years, airlines will have to add 25,000 new aircraft to the current 17,000-strong commercial fleet. By 2026, we will need 480,000 new technicians to maintain these aircraft and over 350,000 pilots to fly them’

Whilst airlines main priority is safety and security the pressure on the industry to fill jobs to overcome this barrier to growth could lead to increased risk through human factors.

Potentially pilots and engineers could be asked to work longer hours and even be assigned to work or presented with situations outside of their skill and experience level. There have even been cases recently in India where pilots are receiving fake certifications, signing them off for 360 hours of flight time after having only sat in the co-pilots seat for 35 minutes.

To address this situation the ICAO has proposed that a solution must be ‘globally-harmonized in nature and include human resource planning tools, accredited training and educational programmes adapted to the next generation, and wide-ranging cooperation among concerned stakeholders.’

The ICAO has established the Next Generation of Aviation Professionals Taskforce to and reach out to the next generation of professionals. Airlines have also started to implement training academy’s and events, such as Paris Air show, are being used as a platform for recruitment.

ELMS Aviation aims to support the industry by providing a standardised platform for individuals and organisations to measure and promote competency through the validation of task recency, training and experience.

Our aeronautic engineering software will support existing safety management systems and allow organisations to deploy staff based on their skill and experience level.

ELMS also provides access to a recruitment portal and accredited training from ELMS approved training providers. With oversight from the CAA and an Independent Advisory Board consisting of aviation professionals and bodies, the system will meet all the latest regulation and legislation standards.

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