The impact of the Middle East aviation sector's achievements to date and its plans for the future have sent shockwaves to all corners of the global industry.
One of the major challenges of this dramatic growth has been the ability to attract and, more importantly, retain the right numbers of appropriately skilled people. The war for talent has affected all employees, but especially highly-skilled personnel like pilots and engineers.
As the world's commercial fleet expands to more than 39,500 aircraft over the next 20 years, the latest forecasts estimate airlines will need to collectively add approximately 460,000 pilots and 650,000 maintenance technicians, both to operate and maintain new planes as well as to replace personnel set to retire during that period.
The scarcity of qualified personnel is much higher in the region as it has the one of the fastest growing aviation sectors in the world. Despite issues that affected the region's aviation sector in the first quarter of 2011, IATA forecasts nearly 15 per cent growth in regional traffic in 2011 over 2010.
The prospects closer to home are even more encouraging. By 2020, Dubai's aviation sector alone could create nearly 400,000 new jobs. Demand for people is mainly driven by the aggressive capacity expansion in terms of orders, infrastructure, new airports and new routes.
The region is also becoming a key travel hub and a popular tourist destination, fuelling the rise in air travel. This major expansion, however, raises questions about how the talent shortage will be bridged.
Technical aviation skills are not easily or quickly transferable, and therefore airlines compete for more or less the same pool of talent. Looking at the rapid pace the Middle East airlines are moving at, this is a challenge they need to come to terms with quickly and adopt a varied and comprehensive approach that addresses different issues simultaneously.
The Middle East aviation industry recruits skilled staff from international (and more mature) aviation markets such as Australia, UK and Europe, North America, and Asia to bridge the gap caused by capacity expansion. The fast-paced growth in the region affords them financial muscle that makes airlines here attractive employers.
To a certain extent, the growth in the regional industry and decline elsewhere in the world has helped the Middle East pick up talent. However, the slowdown in airlines elsewhere around the world has mostly affected cabin crew, back office and commercial operations staff as opposed to pilots and technically skilled staff.
A method that can be used by industry players to retain and attract skilled personnel is to have trainers pass on their knowledge to staff.
Source: Toby Stoke, Gulf News
Gravity always wins!
Rolls Royce (automotive) released a similar stated to the press at the beginning of the year. They also claim that their will be a shortage of skilled workers in the future.