Jobs in air transport cover a wide range of activities and skills.
- skilled work by technicians building and maintaining aircraft;
- a diversity of technical engineering jobs from aircraft and engine design to component production;
- air traffic control and airspace design planning;
- logistics for airlines and airports;
- complex information technology systems on board aircraft and in areas such as baggage handling systems design;
- service industry support jobs such as chefs in catering companies;
- creative positions in design and marketing;
- customer services occupations in airline ticketing, check-in, cabin crew and retail;
- manual labour on airfields;
- air traffic controllers and pilots;
- emergency response personnel at airports; and
- leadership, management and executive roles.
As this list indicates, many roles in the air transport sector require a highly qualified workforce and a significant amount of training. Value-added per employee in the air transport sector (direct employees, excluding non-airside activity at airports) generates 3.6 times as much value-added per employee than the economy as a whole – indicating a more productive workforce.
This is particularly true for the large populations of Asia-Pacific, Africa and Latin America. In addition, growth in the aerospace sector is helping to drive innovation and skills development in countries that have not normally been associated with aircraft manufacturing.
With the projected growth in air traffic and in order to replace industry professionals retiring over the next decades, there will be a need to recruit and train thousands of new staff for jobs across the sector. Whilst some on-airport occupations are not specialist aviation jobs (such as retail), there are a number of positions across the sector that require skill sets specific to aviation. Airports Council International (ACI) is working with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), as well as a number of universities to build professional skills in the industry.
Airlines project a need for more staff, particularly in highly skilled roles such as pilots and maintenance technicians. Civil aerospace companies are working to develop science, technology, engineering and maths skills in the education system, as they forecast a need for the future engineers and designers of aircraft.