Mitigating Pilot Shortage in the Future

November 20, 2019 Aon's Assessment Solutions

Alan Whittaker from L3Harris: "There is a massive talent pool out there that we could be missing out on and the challenge is to try and to tap into that pool to sustain the pipeline that we've got."

Assessing for Talent in the Aviation Sector

"We can assess the qualities and competencies required regardless of an educational background. But there is a massive talent pool out there that could we missing out on and I think the challenge is to try and to tap into that pool to sustain the pipeline that we've got. Going into training to make up for the short pool of pilot shortage in the future.

Attracting Candidates

The biggest challenge we have is, we attract lots of people to our airline academy. But actually the biggest factor for all candidates is pure cost of the course.

So, for instance in the United Kingdom a majority of airlines, when they opened their programs there was very little scholarship or sponsorship and basically, candidates do have to rely on, if they're in total position or they have to rely on the bank of mum and dad and then they go get their bank loan, security against the house.

I think that's the first issue, or the first challenge, that we have: Attracting candidates to our training. We're talking 100,000 pounds for flight training, which is a lot of money. I think, certainly the  opportunities to become a pilot need to engrained at a lower age. So, instead of hitting children in the years ten and eleven, we need to aim much lower than that. So to see at an early age.

Financial Security

What we'll also do is to see into the mother and father to know that little Johnny or little Janie is going to need a 100,000 pounds to be able to be trained to become a commercial airline pilot. I think they're the biggest challenges, certainly in the UK. And obviously we are competing, as well, with our universities, although less and less are going to university but we are still competing on the graduate jobs that are out there in the workforce at this day and age.

Becoming a Pilot at a Young Age

What are we doing to meet those challenges? We are trying to get on board at younger age, visiting schools at the age eight and nine, we are certain to hitting social media more to get to the age range relation that we're after which is the age to 24. And of course our marketing campaigns need to be effective to reach out to those people who feel, perhaps it was not attainable in the past. The big misconception is that maybe you need to be higher educated to become a pilot - you don't. The minimum requirement for L3Harris is flight decencies, great see, English, Math and Science. So we need to reeducate the people out there that becoming a pilot is attainable and it's there. The biggest factor, as I said at the beginning, is cost.

On the Look-Out for Talent

From our L3Harris Group point of view, to attract the talent, we are even thinking about the fact that, actually - we talked about that we don't need a degree, do we actually need g's to C's up to a particular level? There are many people and there is much talent out there in the UK and worldwide who perhaps not succeeded at an educational level. That does not mean to say that they have the ability and the skills and techniques and competencies to become a commercial airline pilot.

So we're perhaps now looking at how can we assess those people to ensure that they've got those skills to be trained within our 18-month footprint. For us as an assessment team, what we're looking for is the potential, the trainability and more importantly the stickability of the candidate - not just for our training, but throughout their airline career.

Airlines are looking for the future captains and training captains of the industry and it is about the stickability of that. They're looking for the long-term, not the short-term. So, as I said, there is a shortage of pilots, there are many ways to skin the cats, so to speak and we may be perhaps missing out on a large pool of talent that are not necessarily educated on a gcc level. But there are ways that we can assess that and offer the opportunity."

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