Skill development is essential for the future of African aviation.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and its partners have identified the need for over 50,000 African aviation professionals in the next 20 years. They will focus on inspiring the next generation as part of the drive to enhance aviation’s contribution toward the continent’s socio-economic development.
Investing in “Future Skills” is one of the six critical areas of the Focus Africa initiative. With its partners, IATA will work to promote aviation as a career to ensure a steady supply of talent to meet the future needs of the industry.
Gearing up for growth
Africa is home to about 17% of the world’s population and the youngest of any continent. The number is expected to double by 2050, with more than half of the world’s population growth taking place in Africa over the next three decades.
This growth will create a significant demand for jobs, resources, and other services, including air travel. According to the Airbus Global Market Forecast, Africa will require nearly 1,200 aircraft deliveries by 2040, transitioning to new-generation models like the A320neo, A330neo, and A350.
The market also requires well over 50,000 new aviation professionals over the next 20 years, including 15,000 pilots, 17,000 technicians, and 23,000 cabin crew. There is a need to develop aviation infrastructure and raise awareness among young people to meet the future needs of the African air transport market.
Promoting aviation and diversity
Several markets worldwide are reported to have a shortage of pilots and other aviation professionals. In Africa, the shortage may stem from the lack of infrastructure and the high cost of training, among other challenges. Additionally, students across the continent are unaware of the different careers and opportunities offered by aviation.
IATA supports the various organizations and initiatives implemented to inform the youth about aviation careers and enable tangible and sustainable progress in response to the continent’s most significant challenges.
The Young African Aviation Professional Association (YAAPA) is one such organization working to develop skilled personnel for a safe, secure, and sustainable African aviation industry. It is engaging with stakeholders to secure funding for aviation enthusiasts from underprivileged backgrounds.
There is also a drive to encourage more young women to pursue STEM subjects and take on careers in aviation. IATA is committed to promoting diversity. Through its 25by2025 initiative, it seeks to improve female representation in the aviation industry, with several African stakeholders signing on to the program.
Training and retaining aviation professionals
Ethiopian Airlines has upgraded its flight training academy into a comprehensive aviation university to enhance training infrastructure and opportunities. It is facilitating the development of the next generation of professionals in the various sectors of air travel, engineering, hospitality, management, and information technology.
While training skilled workers, partners have identified the need to retain African talent. To ensure the future development of the aerospace industry, trained professionals have to work for African airlines and organizations, which can only be achieved by having a reliable and sustainable industry today.
Partnering for success
Stakeholders came together in Addis Ababa last week to discuss the six critical areas of the Focus Africa initiative. The program seeks to leverage strong partnerships across the continent to create a brighter future for the African aviation industry.
Through its foundation, Airbus has about 35 different companies in Africa investing in production and engineering for its aircraft. It is also working with several strategic partners to support the skills development. Airbus Marketing Director for Africa Joep Ellers said at the conference;
“We want to support the skills development and to support it in a sustainable way. The issue we see across the continent is that we are training people, but we need to retain them. They need to stay on the continent because it’s in our interest.”
This summer, Ethiopian Aviation University (EAU) will partner with Boeing and other stakeholders to showcase its various resources, including aircraft, flight simulators, air traffic control facilities, and laboratories, to inspire young students to join the aviation industry.