What is Holding Young People Back From Joining the Aviation Industry?
The industry is currently experiencing crippling staff shortages. Now more than ever, the need to attract young, new talent is evident. However, young people are no longer flocking for jobs in the industry. Why?
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Disruption with flights, airports, and baggage have dominated newspaper headlines lately. One factor underpinning all of this is staff shortages.
As demand for flights returns and then some with revenge travel, the aviation industry is being held back by crippling labour shortages. During the pandemic, aviation lost 2.3 million jobs globally. As people returned back to work there has been a lack of willingness for staff to return to the industry. This is for a multitude of reasons including pay, movement to other sectors, changes in personal circumstances and many more.
It is important to understand, the pandemic only accelerated the staffing crisis. These problems pre-dated 2019 with the industry identifying a looming staff shortage before the virus.
Given the current situation, it is crucial that the industry attracts young, new talent.
However, at the moment people are not rushing for jobs in aviation. There are many reasons behind this, but three of the most prominent ones are perceived problems relating to diversity, industry instability, and climate conscience.
In August 2021, the UK Government’s Department for Transport (DfT) investigated the perception that young adults and adolescents have of the aviation industry. This aimed to break down the lack of new talent entering the industry.
One predominant theme was a concern about a lack of ethnic, gender, and social diversity in aviation. The UK report found that 41% of those surveyed were negatively influenced by the perceived lack of diversity, this number was even higher among BAME adolescents and young adults.
The industry has a long-standing reputation in Europe and the USA for being male and white dominated. Research suggested that women and people of colour were less likely to apply for jobs within the industry.
The report also revealed a belief that you needed to already have money to pursue a career in aviation, especially a career as a pilot. A respondent in the BAME 16-24 year old group said, “how do people become pilots? You need to be quite wealthy.”
There is also a level of perceived instability within the industry. During the pandemic, the aviation industry was forced to make high levels of redundancies. Having witnessed this, there are fears that young people will now be reluctant to train for or opt into a career in aviation.
With young talent looking towards the future, the aviation industry no longer has the same credibility for stability. The fear of airlines going out of business or more pandemics disrupting working life seem to be making young talent think twice before pursuing a career in the industry.
In a time of growing awareness about the environmental impact of industries, aviation’s carbon footprint is withholding people. The UK DfT research showed that this was a particularly influential factor for women and LGBTQI+ individuals.
Although the industry is working hard to meet sustainability targets and integrating new technologies to reduce environmental damage, the public perception continues to associate aviation with carbon emissions.
Gen Z, currently aged between 25 and 10, have been dubbed “champions of the climate cause.” The current perception of the aviation industry as incompatible with a climate conscience appears to contribute to the problem of attracting young, new talent to the industry.
In order to attract fresh talent from the younger generations into the industry, the perceptions of the industry need to be addressed.
At this year’s World Aviation Festival a Talent & Diversity Summit is being held, with a panel discussing the question, “How can we overcome negative industry perceptions around areas such as industry stability and sustainability to attract young and diverse talent for the future?”
Article written by Jess Brownlow