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Building human capital crucial for airlines – expert

Oct 14 2017 08:00
Carin Smith

Margate – Airlines need to create opportunities for new generations to experience the possibilities of the aviation industry, according to Paul Steele, senior vice president of member external relations and corporate secretary of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

This can be done by, among others things, offering internships and giving talks about the industry.

“Building human capital is important in Africa - as in the rest of the world - in order to make use of opportunities in the aviation industry,” he said at the 47th Annual General Assembly of the Airline Association of Southern Africa (AASA).

“Many people still see jobs in aviation as glamorous, but there are newer, shinier, cutting edge industries now competing with aviation,” he explained.

“The millennials are looking for innovation in their jobs, yet research shows they often find it lacking in their jobs.”

Socially conscious workers 

Sustainability is another crucial factor to attract “tomorrow’s socially conscious employees”.

“Attracting tomorrow’s talent is not about making promises on shady foundations. The aviation industry in Africa must look at safety, increased connectivity, smarter regulation and fixing airlines’ financial health in order to attract the best talent,” he said.

IATA estimates that for every passenger transported by African airlines, the airlines make a loss of about R20. 

Steele emphasised that the pure pursuit of profit is not enough for airlines anymore. They must also show that they play a wider role in society.

“The climate change debate is still a major concern for millennials. The bar for sustainability is, therefore, always being raised. I am confident the aviation industry will be able to meet this,” said Steele.

According to Refilwe Ledwaba, executive director of Women & Aviation in Southern Africa, strong problem solving skills will be needed in the future due to technological advances.

She said a lot of money has been invested in developing pilot skills, but the industry has not been able to get them to the point of being ready to be employed at a commercial level.

In her view, greater collaboration is needed in this regard.

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