The industry is finally emerging from its two-year crisis. As all aviation stakeholders take stock, perhaps the first apparent difference is the number of employees. A huge number of staff of all levels have left the industry, taking with them years of experience and hard-won skills.
“As aviation rebuilds from the biggest crisis in its 100-year history, it is essential that those leading the transition into a more sustainable future, possess the correct skill set,” says Stéphanie Siouffi-Vareilhes, IATA’s Director Training. “Ensuring that the corresponding training is made available to support this is more important than ever.”
For training to be truly effective, organizations need to understand which staff they have left and their organizational priorities. The correct training can then reskill the remaining employees to match an organization’s requirements. Flexibility in the way organizations manage their resources will be key.
At the same time, attracting new talent will be vital. Again, training will play a pivotal role not only in terms of providing the requisite abilities but also in showcasing the development potential within a role.
Crucially, the sheer number of new employees means that formal, scheduled classroom courses are unlikely to meet demand. There is also a cost issue with many airlines burdened under mountains of debt. A new community of trainers from inside organizations must therefore be found, especially within the operational area of aviation, as adherence to regulations is of utmost importance.
New areas of focus
Safety is the industry’s number one priority and IATA Training underlines this. “Because the industry is hiring so many new people from other fields, it is important that they understand aviation’s safety culture,” says Siouffi-Vareilhes. “Training is needed to instil that culture and also develop safety leadership.”
IATA Training is working with experts on a simulation tool to elevate safety leadership and mitigate safety risk throughout the airline and aviation industry by living, thinking and working through realistic challenges using gamification. This will that help students understand the impact of safety decisions across the organization. Also, by developing this simulation tool, IATA Training stays at forefront of aviation training providers.
One hot new area of training is sustainability. Aviation is committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. That ambitious target must be supported by the corresponding training.
Sustainability training has been designed with three levels. An explorer level is suitable for beginners, a practitioner level establishes the core skills, and a leadership level helps to set the right strategy for an organization.
“Leadership isn’t just about sustainability either,” says Siouffi-Vareilhes. “Because there will be so many new people, IATA Training is concentrating on a leadership program in all aspects of aviation. Leaders must have the right level of technical knowledge in their field plus a host of other skills.”
Two other training areas are likely to increase in importance in the months and years ahead. First, cybersecurity is an essential component in the industry’s digital transformation. In-depth knowledge of the latest developments will be critical to aviation’s success.
Second, competency-based training and assessment (CBTA) has become a key element in specific areas, such as handling dangerous goods. IATA Training will be working hard to train other training institutions in CBTA and ensure compliance with all relevant standards.
IATA Training courses offer something from entry to executive level. They are available globally in numerous formats and are designed by industry experts so that participants can immediately deploy their skills and knowledge in their workplace.
New training techniques
Before the pandemic, most of this training would have been done face-to-face. And in truth, that is still the preferred method for many companies. Nothing quite compares with the ability to teach, learn, and network in person.
But a mixture of the pandemic, new technologies, and new ideas have revamped training delivery.
The pandemic saw a greater resilience on virtual classrooms. These are usually done live with the same degree of interactivity. They also put the student at the center of training as the online environment generates more of a focus on the individual. This is a critical development in training regimes that are by nature focused on adherence to regulations and standards in a highly complex industry.
“We need to ensure the right competencies at the right job levels,” says Siouffi-Vareilhes. “But we now have a learner-centric product that still has industry standards at heart.”
New technologies include virtual reality—which has already been put to good use in ground operations training—while new ideas include gamification. Making learning fun has proven to be a reliable method of ensuring students maintain their interest during and after a course.
“This leads into micro-learning, which is another new concept,” notes Siouffi-Vareilhes. “A TED talk lasts just 17 minutes now and on TikTok, the average time for a message is just 17 seconds. Micro-learning enables us to help people understand what they don’t know and encourage them to take more in-depth courses.”
There is little doubt that fresh training delivery methods are helping to attract new talent to the industry.
“IATA Training is celebrating its 50th anniversary,” says Siouffi-Vareilhes. “In the past 20 years alone, we have trained over 1 million people. This is a reliable, safe, and sustainable industry and only training will help us keep it that way. Our mission is to provide the right competence, to the right people, in right format. IATA strives to be the first point of reference worldwide for aviation professionals and students wishing to learn the standards and practices which allow aviation to operate safely, securely and sustainably.
“This is the most exciting moment to join the industry,” she continues. “We are reshaping everything and moving in new directions. There are plenty of opportunities for young talent. And the academic partnerships with such prestigious institutions as Harvard Business Publishing, Embry-Riddle, and the University of St Gallen and Carlton University only add to the incentive.”