Shining an industry-wide lens on the aviation skills crisis

Friday, November 4, 2022

It’s estimated that the aviation industry lost 2.3 million workers globally during the pandemic.[1] As airlines were forced to furlough or let go of workers, many have not returned, leaving millions of commercial passengers subject to flight delays and cancellations. While chronic staff shortages in the commercial space remains a prominent issue, it can take the spotlight away from other sectors in aviation such as charter and cargo that are equally as vital to the long-term health of the industry.

Global aviation services provider, Air Partner, has launched a Broker Academy to develop the next generation of private jet, group charter and cargo brokers and support the industry’s recovery. The new scheme provides recruits with three months’ training before assigning them to a six-month placement in the private jet, group charter or cargo team, dependent on their unique skill set and fit. During this time, trainees will have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience and work with experts in the field with 30, 60 and 90-day check-ins on their development.

Air Partner’s Broker Academy forms part of the industry-wide effort to engage young people in aviation. The Department of Transport has developed a Generation Aviation group as part of its larger Reach for the Skies programme, both of which aim to address the skills shortage and diversify the workforce. The industry provides thousands of jobs beyond piloting and engineering, and there is a need to highlight these less visible but no less important roles in aviation. Air Partner’s Broker Academy does just that, providing a pathway into the world of aviation to anybody with an aptitude for sales. 

Commenting on the academy, Lorna Gamman, Air Partner’s Head of Learning and Development, says, “Companies must reignite confidence in aviation careers after the world witnessed the industry’s instability. And as the current economic climate remains turbulent, encouraging workers to switch roles poses an additional challenge as many seek stability in their roles and face ‘first in first out’ anxiety. There are roles for all successful candidates at the end of the academy to ensure that they feel secure in the industry and have the opportunity to flourish.”

The perception of aviation as an ‘old boys club’ can also act as a deterrent for diverse talent. Around 70 per cent of the industry’s workforce are men, and women are outnumbered in every role other than cabin crew. For companies seeking to grow and truly diversify their workforce, fostering a more inclusive training environment and providing role models in leadership can go a long way in dismantling traditional notions about the industry. More than half of Air Partner’s new hires are female, following a blind recruitment process designed to tackle unconscious bias. The process was supported by specialist talent researchers from New Street Consulting Group, who were given the brief ‘potential over experience’ and ‘attitude over skill’.

Air Partner’s focus on potential aims to recognise aviation as an opportunity for social mobility. Mark Briffa, President of International Charter and Services, started his career with Air Partner in 1996 as a Commercial Jets Broker and rose through the ranks through steely determination, hard work and keeping business as simple as it should be. The Broker Academy is one of many learning and development initiatives at Air Partner that aims to attract new talent and shape the future of aviation. The company recently partnered with the charity Fly2Help to support its Aim High programme, which provides career opportunities to disadvantaged young people. As the industry continues to recover, Air Partner will continue to support the next generation of aviation workers.