Excitement. Variety. Fast-paced. Innovative. Opportunities to see the world. The aviation industry has always had a unique set of attractions to those seeking a career.
Aviation has seen year-on-year growth of around 5% for the past 10 years – and the pull of aviation glamour was strong. However, fewer flights are currently operating, staff have been furloughed, hiring is on pause, there have been core salary cuts and not forgetting changing terms and conditions. So, what is the future of the employee value proposition (EVP) of aviation companies needing to attract new talent to the sector?
An industry with a global role to play
Air travel will come back stronger. The pandemic’s impact on travel was brutal. However, within just a few months, we are travelling again with routes opening up, health and safety measures in place and restrictions being lifted. Confidence in travel is growing. It may take a couple of years to get back to where we were, but there is no doubt that aviation has a significant role to play. Those wanting to be a part of that will be attracted to the industry.
The benefits and perks of travel are still a magnet
With so much engineering and technological and passenger innovation happening that attracts those wanting to be a part of the sector, we can sometimes forget how desirable the perks on offer around air travel can be. Perhaps this is because they have always been there. Perhaps because hiring companies have assumed candidates know this. Perhaps it is simply no longer communicated.
Mark Duffy, deputy director of HR and head of talent at Ryanair, outlined the importance of communication. The firm invested in their internal communications, developing an app which could support staff communication. He comments that the app has “helped to engage with staff and communicate with them”.
An industry with flexible working and reconsidered compensation and benefits packages
In an industry centered around shift work, dispersed locations and planned schedules, one might assume that this is a sector already abreast of flexible working. Not so – or not for all companies; office-based working has been the accepted norm. By their nature, some job roles must be office- or airport-based. However, other roles have been successfully carried out remotely during the enforced work-from-home period.
In an episode from our webinar series, Coming Through the Clouds, Duffy shared that the need to change work location over the past few months made the company “realize that certain functions are really productive working from home”.
It is clear the industry is taking note of the shift in people’s priorities. A survey carried out by Petter Hörnfeldt, founder of Mentour 360 SC, showed that 60% of new and emerging talent that will be joining the workforce over the next three to five years value having a strong work/life balance above all else.
A sector keen to improve its diversity
With only 5% of current pilots being female and the need for personal funding of pilot training, this is a sector aware of the need for change regarding diversity. And action is being taken.
There is much debate about how training fees can be financed to make it an option for more people, regardless of their financial position (and often their parents’ financial position). Initiatives to encourage more girls to learn about becoming a pilot are in place: from sponsoring attainment badges within the UK Girl Guide movement, to school talks. Also, there is a greater thought process about how women and men can balance a family life with a career within the sector.
Aviation is more than just flying!
A career in aviation may mean pilot or in-flight attendant to some. However, this is no longer the reality. Digital technologies, greater customer personalization of service and huge advances in engineering technology translate to a significant growth in opportunities for IT, engineering and technical-based careers. Duffy highlights by saying: “We are a technology company that happens to have 455 aircrafts.”
Raj Raghavan, senior vice president and head of human resources at IndiGo, shares his experience.
“In India, aviation is still seen as an industry that employs pilots and flight attendants. However, we have made real progress recently in highlighting those digital skills we need. I think it all starts from the top. We hired a top-notch leader from the digital space and created a team. Most of digital investment has been on the customer-facing front. We are seen as a disruptor in our market.”
Aviation has always attracted disruptors to the market – and that looks set to continue. It makes for an exciting landscape within which to work. What a great story to tell as part of a talent attraction campaign!
A sector with internal talent growth as a focus
The sector is likely to face a significant talent shortage of pilots, engineers and technical professionals in the coming years. This means that, once recruited, firms will be keen to retain and develop their people and prevent the need to go back to the talent market for hiring. A renewed focus on development and promotion will take place. Couple this with the scope for career options and it makes for an enticing sector for new talent looking for initial employment.
Raghavan also shared that the airline wants to move away from being “dependent on lateral hiring of captains from outside”. It means that the company needs to be “farming its own food from now on”. This was echoed by Ryanair’s Duffy as the airline’s promotion to command roles could be within four years. He comments: “We could have a captain as young as 22 years old who had joined us at 18.”
It is clear that the aviation sector has plenty to offer. The challenge will be for each individual company to work out its own EVP and share and communicate this widely across its prospective talent pool.
You can hear from Aon’s David Barrett in our Coming Through the Clouds series of roundtable discussions as he talks with Mark Duffy, deputy director HR, head of talent at Ryanair, Raj Raghavan, senior vice president and head of human resources at IndiGo and Suzanne Courtney, strategic consulting and aviation expert at Aon's Assessment Solutions.
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