Developing skills

Skills Diversity Investment

Working in aviation encompasses a wide range of jobs and skills, including:

  • Pilots and air traffic controllers
  • Technicians who build and maintain aircraft
  • Technical engineering jobs, from aircraft and engine design to component production
  • Air traffic control and airspace design planning
  • Airline and airport logistics
  • Designers who develop complex information technology systems on board aircraft and in areas such as baggage handling systems
  • Service jobs such as chefs in catering companies
  • Creative positions in design and marketing
  • Customer service roles in airline ticketing, check-in, cabin crew and retail
  • Manual labour on airfields
  • Emergency response personnel at airports
  • 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. Employees in the air transport sector (direct employees, excluding non-airside activity at airports) generate 4.4 times as much value 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.

Growth in the aerospace sector is also helping to drive innovation and skills development in countries that have not normally been associated with aircraft manufacturing.

Help wanted

With the projected growth in air traffic, and as current industry professionals retire, there will be a need to recruit and train thousands of new staff. While some on-airport occupations are not specialist aviation jobs (such as retail), a number of positions require skillsets specific to aviation. Airports Council International (ACI) works with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), as well as several universities, to build professional aviation skills.

Airlines need more staff, particularly in highly skilled roles such as pilots and maintenance technicians. Civil aerospace companies are working with the education system to develop science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills in order to meet the need for engineers and aircraft designers in future.

Training air traffic controllers takes years, including lengthy on-the-job training, so air navigation service providers need to plan their resource requirements well in advance. New training methodologies are reducing the time to train new controllers, and new air traffic management technologies are being implemented to improve productivity, by increasing the number of aircraft air traffic controllers can manage safely.