Aviation industry seeks solutions to serious shortage of professionals

November 22, 2019 - 09:37
The global aviation industry’s serious shortage of skilled professionals has reached unprecedented levels, experts said on Thursday (November 21) at a seminar in HCM City.


Visitors at the Việt Nam International Aviation Expo ends today in HCM City. — VNS Photo Bồ Xuân Hiệp

Bồ Xuân Hiệp

HCM CITY — The global aviation industry’s serious shortage of skilled professionals has reached unprecedented levels, experts said on Thursday (November 21) at a seminar in HCM City.

“Finding new talent in aviation is the greatest challenge, so retention of current employees has become even more critical,” Nattaporn Chuensuwan, an aviation consultant and lecturer from Thailand, told Việt Nam News.

Speaking at a seminar on disruptions in the industry, she said that strikes by aviation workers, challenging training courses, and more competitive markets had affected staff recruitment activities.

Over the next decade, several hundred thousand pilots, technicians and cabin crew around the world are expected to reach retirement age, according to Nattaporn.  

Staff recruitment has also been affected by unattractive salary and benefit packages as well as concerns about work-life balance, she said. In addition, many young people are unaware of the number of and kind of jobs available in the aviation profession.

However, at the same time, the increasing number of commercial fleets, passengers and growth in routes has also contributed to staff shortages. To support business expansion, the industry will need many more pilots, technicians, cabin crew, and staff for ground operations and customer services. 

According to the International Air Transport Assocation (IATA), finding new talent in aviation is the greatest challenge today. Compared to staff retention, training and retirements, recruitment is by far the biggest challenge across every region of the world, it said. 

At least 48 per cent of respondents in an IATA survey said that recruitment problems centred on necessary skills and salary demands. 

Harry Hohmeister, a member of Lufthansa’s executive board, said the industry was susceptible to disruption as customers were becoming more independent and brands less important.

“Disruption is part of life. Organisations that are willing to challenge assumptions and biases can thrive on it. But to do so, they must implement a thoughtful, multi-dimensional plan to manage change,” he said. 


To improve recruitment activities, Nattaporn said that information about preferred competencies should be shared with external stakeholders such as universities so they are aware of what students should know. 

Long-term strategic planning of talent management and forecasting should also be reviewed to maintain a sufficient number of staff, she said.

“HR professionals should have adequate understanding about the uniqueness of aviation personnel, competencies, qualifications and training,” she said. “A diverse environment, especially generational awareness, should be embraced as workplace culture in organisations builds employee engagement and makes a company a great place to work.” 

According to a report from US aircraft manufacturer Boeing, about 635,000 pilots will be needed for commercial airlines over the next two decades.

Cabin crew shortages often occur together with pilot shortages due to low salaries, competition and slow generational turnover, the Boeing report said. Companies are now working to launch new and better training schemes that would allow them to source workforce locally instead of relying on international markets, it said.

According to a report from aviationpros.com, 85 per cent of surveyed airlines in 2016 were looking to hire more staff, most of which were cabin crew. Engineers and mechanics were also on the list. 

With air traffic poised for huge growth and higher customer expectations, the role of aviation engineers and maintenance technicians will become more important. 

The seminar was held as part of the Việt Nam International Aviation Expo, which ends today (November 22) in HCM City.

The expo, hosted by Phoenix Asia Expo, is showcasing the latest equipment, products and technologies in the aviation industry. The first such exhibition in Việt Nam has attracted more than 50 exhibitors from 20 countries and territories. — VNS