Tackling the labour shortage in Business aviation by engaging with young talents
Labour shortage issues in the Business aviation industry have recently become a recurring topic of discussion among professionals. Addressing this challenge will necessitate a sustained, collective effort from the entire industry to better engage with younger generations.
The matter of the future workforce is gaining prominence as a topic of discussion not only across the broader aviation industry but also within the Business aviation sector. This discussion arises as projections for future demand growth clash with the present reality of a highly tight job market, where operators and manufacturers are coming to terms with their mounting necessity to hire pilots, technicians and craftsmen. This complex situation prompts significant concerns about the aviation industry’s ability to attract the talent it needs for the future. EBAA’s education initiative in universities across Europe serves as a successful example of what the industry can collectively do to remain attractive in the future.
Based on the latest Aviation Talent Forecast, from CAE, there are currently 57,000 active Business aviation pilots in 2023. However, by 2032, the sector will require a total of 63,000 pilots to accommodate the anticipated expansion of the global Business aviation fleet, which is expected to increase from 22,000 to 26,000 business jets in service. This means that, factoring in the retirements and the subsequent need for replacements, the sector will have to hire 32,000 new pilots over the next 10 years to keep up with its growth projections. The outlook is even more concerning when looking at the data for maintenance technicians as 74,000 new technicians are needed over the next 10 years, with a staggering 44,000 technicians forecasted to retire in this timeframe. Furthermore, leading aircraft and components manufacturers such as Textron, Embraer and Pratt & Whitney reported to Aviation International News that production levels are being impacted by an ongoing labour shortage across the supply chain, which is posing significant obstacles for these companies as they work to clear their burgeoning backlogs.
But what are the causes leading to this situation? How is it possible that a sector considered the most innovative, exciting, and fascinatingly challenging within the aviation industry is now struggling to attract talents to fuel its future growth?
EBAA has long been mindful of the workforce problem and willing to answer these questions to find concrete solutions as our members have consistently voiced their concerns regarding the shortage of skilled professionals in the Business aviation sector and the significant long-term risks associated with it.
In response to this pressing issue, EBAA has taken a proactive approach to help the industry tackle the problem head-on and established partnerships with leading European aviation universities to organise Business aviation modules for aviation students.
This exciting journey led by EBAA’s Future Workforce Manager, Maureen Gautier and Market Intelligence Manager, Arthur Thomas, involved some of the most renowned cradles for aviation academic training, such as ENAC – Ecole Nationale de l’Aviation Civile in France, as well as Cranfield University and the University of West London in the UK. This initiative was supported by like-minded national associations such as the British Business and General Aviation Association (BBGA), EBAA France, and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA).
EBAA’s initiative aims to serve as an inspiration for other companies and industry bodies to make similar efforts in educating students about the benefits of pursuing careers in the Business aviation sector, drawing from the sector’s rich heritage of over a century marked by excellence, continuous innovation, and unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction.
Through interacting with hundreds of students, EBAA has had the opportunity to receive interesting feedback which are fruitful takeaways for the entire industry when it engages with potential young candidates.
Familiarity with the sector
One of the most notable findings was that while the different job opportunities in the airlines industry were well-known to everyone, a significant majority of students had limited to no familiarity with Business aviation. Additionally, a considerable portion held a stereotypical view of the industry, perceiving it as a closed-off realm that is challenging to enter and often linked with a glamorous lifestyle. These observations clearly indicate the need for the industry to do more in explaining that Business aviation primarily serves the global ecosystem offering a tailored transport solution to business professionals, government officials, and organizations and that from a career perspective, it is not only accessible to everyone but can also present enticing career growth opportunities.
On a positive note, after students were provided with introductory knowledge about the Business aviation sector, many of them showed enthusiasm for its unpredictable nature, which was perceived as a captivating feature in comparison to working for airlines, where flight routes are predetermined long in advance. For example, leveraging on the diverse range of aircraft types, clients, and destinations could be a winning strategy for companies seeking to hire young pilots as this diversity could be narrated as a feature that keeps the work interesting and provides opportunities to gain experience in various aspects of aviation.
Another remarkable aspect is that students frequently asked questions about sustainability, likely due to the recent media attention focused on the sector. This presents an opportunity to talk to young generations leveraging Business aviation’s track record as a leader in innovation within the aviation industry which has translated into 40% efficiency gains over the past 30 years. Moreover, the Business Aviation Commitment on Climate Change (BACCC), which sets the industry on the collective path towards net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, should be the centrepiece of any company’s marketing strategy to appeal to young pilots, technicians, sales personnel and the likes.
Considering the recent changes in the job market and recognising that Business aviation often serves as a barometer of future trends in the aviation industry, it is evident that the sector should focus on earlier education for students about pursuing careers in Business aviation. Expectations and values of Generation Z when they first approach the job market are markedly different from those of past generations. Therefore, companies need to understand how to effectively engage with these young individuals, considering that, for this generational cohort, values such as sustainability, gender balance, and work-life balance are essential criteria when considering career options within the Business aviation industry.
Only through this proactive approach can the Business aviation industry remain an appealing career choice for the generations to come and secure a sustainable growth path in the future.
In 2024, EBAA intends to continue its educational effort and has already confirmed partnerships with Cranfield and ENAC for another series of Business aviation lectures. Also, it is actively working on forging new partnerships with universities in Austria, Ireland, Malta, and Switzerland, with the aim of extending the reach of this initiative to a wider and more diverse group of talented students across Europe.