Training needed to 'right-skill' aviation workers after Covid, Iata says

Staff furloughed during pandemic and new employees will need to be retrained in safety measures

BERLIN, GERMANY - MAY 04:  A worker passes boards displaying flight information from nearby airports as a test to make sure they are running correctly in the departures area of Berlin Brandenburg Airport (IATA code BER) on May 4, 2012 in Schoenefeld, near Berlin, Germany. The new airport, located south of Berlin, is scheduled to open on June 3 and will replace three airports: Tempelhof Airport expanded by the Nazis which closed in 2008, Tegel Airport, scheduled to close later this year, and Schoenefeld Airport, which currently exists at the site of the new facility and was opened in 1934 to host an aircraft plant. The new airport, designed for a capacity of 27 million passengers a year, has cost nearly three billion euros to construct, controversial in a city that has one of the highest levels of unemployment in the country, at twice the German national average. Proponents of the new airport contend that the building may salvage the capital city which has struggled economically in recent years.  (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)

Training to “right-skill” aviation employees is essential for the resumption of air travel after the Covid-19 pandemic triggered sweeping layoffs in the industry, the International Air Transport Association said.

As furloughed workers rejoin the workforce and new employees are appointed, airlines need to train their staff on all safety aspects before air travel demand recovers, given the highly regulated nature of the industry, said Frederic Leger, interim senior vice president of commercial products and services at Iata, during an online press event on Wednesday.

Right-skilling existing workers and ensuring that new employees from outside aviation can quickly acquire the necessary skills are crucial to the successful rebuilding of the workforce after the pandemic, Iata said, citing a global survey of about 800 human resources managers in the industry.

Before the pandemic, Iata offered training courses to 100,000 aviation professionals annually.

The coronavirus pandemic hit the aviation industry hard, forcing airlines around the world to preserve cash and cut costs by grounding aircraft and laying off or furloughing employees.

In the HR managers' survey, 70 per cent of respondents said they had lost their training budgets entirely or had been forced to halve them.

Training is in limbo, with 11 per cent currently not providing any skills development courses while 36 per cent have embraced self-study solutions.

The most critical areas for training aviation professionals are safety, security, operations and economics, the survey showed.

Of the HR managers surveyed, 85 per cent said that online learning will be central for skills development in the future.

During the pandemic, Iata used digital learning options in some of its initiatives to support aviation workers.

It offered a special online training course for former cabin crew to help them to identify their skills and professional strengths as they switched to other industries.

It also offered online classroom training for temperature-controlled cargo operations involving the transport of Covid-19 vaccines, Iata said.

As aviation rebuilds, topics such as sustainability and digitisation will become more important in the retraining of workers, the agency said.

Updated: July 11th 2021, 11:46 AM