Why upskilling workers is crucial in the aviation supply chain

Supply chain | Mar 30, 2020 | By Satair | 3 min read

The aviation industry has seen significant demand for reskilling and upskilling in recent years. If there is a sharp focus on increased efficiency in your industry, the skills and knowledge of your employees quickly become a priority.

Nowhere is this more true than in the aviation industry—where rapid technological developments are combined with a constant demand for greater efficiency. 

Manual jobs are becoming obsolete

According to a report from the European Commission, new technologies and digital tools are generally making manual jobs obsolete. That means an increased need for re-education and more upskilling across the board. 

More specifically, according to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report, more than 55% of workers across the Aviation, Travel & Tourism, Financial Services & Investors, Chemistry, Advanced Materials & Biotechnology, and Global Health & Healthcare sectors will need some reskilling. 

The Aviation, Travel & Tourism industry outlines the highest demand for reskilling, projecting that 68% of its workforce will require some reskilling. Further, companies in that industry project that 18% of the workforce will need reskilling lasting for more than one year.

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Rapid shifts in the aviation industry are making upskilling necessary

But why is upskilling of workers in the aviation supply chain becoming necessary?

A study published in the Journal of Aerospace Technology and Management concluded that we are witnessing a rapid shift in the way people work in the aviation world. Future aerospace industry workforce will be called to work in much more diversified environments in all accounts (multidisciplinary, multi-site and multi-cultural). 

Technology is changing the way teams work. For instance, the design of the Airbus A380 was divided across design offices and engineering centres located throughout Europe and North America. The design offices used state of the art interactive software packages, enabling designers to work collaboratively on conventional designs from different locations. To support these examples of moving toward globalisation, communication and collaboration skills must be more finely tuned. Communication must be rapid, concise and cognisant of cultural differences.

Although analytical skills will continue to play an essential role as entry-level qualities, soft skills like leadership, team spirit, three-dimensional thinking, risk definition and risk management are expected to be the critical success factors of their long careers.

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Greater demand for digital expertise

In an interview with MRO Network, Thom-Arne Norheim, technical director of Norwegian recruiter OSM Aviator, shed some light on the changing mechanic skills that will be required.

“Digital troubleshooting will require personnel who are highly skilled on computers and digital platforms on a much greater scale than what we experience today,” said Norheim.

Boeing’s Pilot & Technician Outlook 2019-2038 also underlined that as a new generation of aircraft becomes more prominent in the global fleet, advances in aircraft technology will drive demand for a new set of skills, such as digital troubleshooting and composites repair.

Furthermore, operators and MROs will need to ensure that technicians continue to maintain the skills capability to service the large fleet of older generation aircraft. These two skill sets often differ, creating opportunities for the industry to enhance its standard training curriculum.

The report also foresees the need for nearly 770,000 new maintenance technicians within the next 20 years.

A more diverse workforce

Both the Journal of Aerospace Technology and Management and the Pilot & Technician Outlook 2019-2038 stress that the future workforce will need to be more diverse, more mobile and more suited to flexible and adaptive learning methods. This implies that new technologies will be critical to engage students.