Iata ready to help airlines with their post-pandemic training and retraining challenges

9th July 2021 By: Rebecca Campbell - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

With the end of the Covid-19 pandemic now in sight, the global aviation industry has major re-training and training requirements to address, International Air Transport Association (Iata) senior VP commercial products and services Frédéric Leger has pointed out. He was addressing the second day of the virtual Iata Global Media Days 2021 on Thursday afternoon. (Iata is the representative body of the global airline industry.)

He pointed out that, on the one hand, aviation was a technical and regulated industry in which safety was the number one priority; consequently, airline staff required a high degree of training. But on the other, the industry had laid off “quite a lot of people”, who were now being recalled and would need re-training, while new employees would need training from scratch.

The association has long been concerned with training. “Iata has been training a lot of staff in the industry for the past 50 years,” he highlighted. Before the pandemic hit, the body had been training 100 000 aviation professionals every year.

To ascertain the scale and the nature of the challenge now facing the sector, Iata had conducted a survey of 804 human resources (HR) decision-makers in the industry. No fewer than 70% of the respondents reported that their training budgets had been cut by 50% or even 100%, while 11% were currently not providing any skills development programmes to employees.

Generally, stated Leger, the view in airline HR was that online training was the best approach to providing training to new staff and refresher training to current and recalled staff, to prepare them for the restart of operations. Already, 36% of the respondents had moved their training focus to online learning, and 85% said that online training (including virtual classrooms) would be an important element in the recovery of their companies.

Further, due to the reduced training budgets, airline HR decision-makers wanted to develop internal training courses and get senior staff to train junior staff, as well as stimulate cross-team learning. The five top trainee instructional needs were identified as, first, safety (including biosafety); second, management and leadership; third, commercial activities; fourth, operations; and fifth, law and regulations. The five top skills requirements of the airlines were very similar but not identical. Safety remained in first place, but operations came second. Management and leadership was third, while fourth place was taken by “adaptability” and the category law and regulations was again in fifth place.

Again, Iata was actively helping the industry. “We have developed a safety awareness programme for new hires; again, online,” he pointed out. “Iata continues to be ready to support the training needs of the aviation value chain. ... With the groundwork done on sustainability and digitalisation, we are preparing to satisfy the needs of tomorrow’s aviation workforce.”