Public-private partnerships key to address shortage of skills and gender balance in aviation

9 October, 2019 (London Stansted, UK). Kick-starting a campaign to encourage STEM within technical schools and amongst students, Europe’s business aviation industry - led by the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) together with the British Business and General Aviation Association (BBGA) - is today calling on government and the private sector to come together and create skills centres to address workforce challenges and gender balance in aviation.

The Business aviation sector is advocating to create more successful initiatives such as that pioneered by Stansted Airport College in the United Kingdom, which has just enrolled 429 full-time aviation trainees and 52 apprentices in its second year.

Under EBAA’s Expanding Horizons initiative, which aims in part to attract and engage the next generation of aviation professionals, the business aviation industry advocates the revitalisation of apprenticeships and the development of dedicated aviation centres of excellence. These would offer aviation services pathways where trainees would receive high quality training inhouse with assured work placements when ready.

Speaking today at an event entitled “Aviation Centres of Excellence – Developing tomorrow’s workforce for a global community”, which drew together educators, members of industry and politicians from across the UK, Frederique Luca, EBAA Senior Communications Manager, stated: “The aviation industry is falling behind because we are not doing enough to make our sector more attractive to a diverse talent pool – from all areas of the social spectrum.  We need to create new centres of excellence to train a much needed workforce.”

In reference to the United Kingdom, Paul Maynard, UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Transport, added: “We have the largest aviation network in Europe, and with 435 million passengers set to travel through UK airports by 2050, we need the brightest minds from all backgrounds to support and strengthen this industry.”

Marc Bailey, BBGA CEO, concluded: “With business aviation accounting for 7% of that traffic, linking city pairs not connected by scheduled airline, it is vital that aviation moves together to keep up with that demand.  We desperately, as an industry, need more technicians, engineers, air traffic controllers, ground handlers, as well as pilots to secure tomorrow’s workforce too. It is a fact of life that young people are increasingly facing tempting offers from other industries, including the tech sector.  The solution, we are championing, lies in practical and immersive training, hand-in-hand with industry – as successfully demonstrated at Stansted Airport College.”

The requirement for more commercial pilots is well known, but other roles in the less recognised ‘aviation services’ – in aircraft maintenance, Air Traffic Control, ground and flight operations – are deteriorating as European countries face a demographic cliff edge as baby boomers retire.

Stansted Airport College – a case study

Stansted Airport College, opened in September 2018, in a joint venture with Harlow College, is the first purpose built further education college at a UK airport. It will see 138 trainees graduate in June 2020.

Its curriculum offers pre-apprentice, apprenticeship and full-time programmes, plus work-transition courses in a range of subjects including aircraft engineering, maintenance, cabin crew, hospitality and event management.

After a successful first year, with an average pass rate of 97%, college graduates have secured permanent jobs at FlightWorx, Marshall Aerospace, Jet2, Ryanair, Kearsley Airways, GT Engines, Harrods Aviation, British Airways and AIM Composites.

This year it is delivering apprenticeship training for Ryanair, Tui, Harrods Aviation, Avalon Aero, Titan Airways, Inflite, CRS Technics, IMT Aviation, Sky Smart ACS Aviation, GT Engines, Storm Aviation and Kearsley Airways.

Women in aviation boost

Following on from its ‘Go on Girl’ campaign, Stansted College has successfully recruited 12 females onto its engineering programmes, equating to 8% engineering trainees, a 5% increase on the previous year. A total 60% of trainees on its Aviation Operations programme are female. With 138 trainees graduating in June 2020, Stansted College will have approximately 150 spaces next year. This year, says Karen Spencer, Principal, the college has received over 450 applications.