‘Inadequate skilled workers in aviation poses serious challenge’

Aviation expert and a member of the Agency for the Air Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA) Kamata Joel, has said that having the appropriate number of skilled workers in the aviation industry in Africa still poses a serious challenge.

He stated at the weekend in his presentation to Aviation and Allied Publication that in the fields of air navigation services and air transport, there was still a remarkable gap between the staff in hand and the optimum number needed for the continuous and safe provision of the respective services.

Joel

He reiterated that sectors like meteorological assistance to aviation, firefighting, ground support services and airport commercial fields must not be neglected though relatively less impacted.

The training sector, which is sometimes neglected, he noted, was not an exception, stressing that the continent needs considerable manpower in the short term as well as the medium and long term.

At the beginning of the second half of 2022, it was recorded that the African aviation industry will require over 65,000 staff amongst them pilots, technicians and crew members by 2041.

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Though the different key actors are taking a lot of corrective actions to reduce the manpower shortage, nowadays, in every African country, having the appropriate number of skilled workers is still a big issue.

He said: “Over the last 60 years, the African states as well as private companies have been working individually or in groups to train the manpower needed for the sustainability of the aviation sector. Thus, a considerable number of training centres (schools, colleges, institutes, etc..) have been created across the continent.

NCAT, Zaria

“Those institutions are most of the time specialized in a given field. Therefore, while some are specialised in civil aviation training (air traffic control, ATSEP, aircraft engineering, etc.) some others are leading the flying, aviation firefighting, ground handling, aviation management, etc. sectors. And they have been doing well but not enough nor in a harmonious and coordinated way.”

Joel disclosed that in 2008, the Secretary General of ICAO during a meeting in South Africa, gave the mandate for the creation of an organisation that would gather all Approved Training Organisations (ATOs) on the African continent with the clear objective of harmonising and standardising the aviation training provision on the continent.

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He lamented that despite almost five years of consultations, the Association of African Aviation Training Organisations (AATO) was created in April 2013, in Abuja Nigeria cannot rise to the challenge, hinting that African Aviation Training Organisations (AATO) has members in every single region on the continent, more than 90% of which are all ICAO Regional Training Centers of Excellence (RTCE).

He said: “It has signed an MOU with AFCAC and their joint efforts to provide adequate aviation training based on the needs clearly expressed by states bring hope of an efficient training of aviation professionals on the continent by African Instructors wherever it is possible.

“Besides the AATO/AFCAC partnership, AATO encourages collaboration among ATOs on the continent to cover the various training needs. But without the appropriate means and support from the other stakeholders, AATO cannot rise to the challenge alone”

He noted that there was a need to create a new crop of aviation professionals to anticipate the upcoming even bigger shortage gap needs, which needs specific actions.

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“First, conditioning potential future candidates even from generation A (4-5 years) through appropriate and customised information programmes is essential. In 2014, during the Next Generation Aviation Professionals (NGAP2) symposium I attended in Montreal, Canada as a member of the delegation of the Agency for the Air Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA), I depicted at the workshop the poor level of information of very young Africans about aviation matters.”

“The provision of quality aviation training is critical for the development of a sustainable, safe and secure air transport industry in Africa. Building a harmonious and efficient training capacity in Africa cannot go without robust and sincere collaboration among ATOs. As mentioned, no single ATO can pretend to have the monopoly of all aviation training needed on the continent,” he added.

Wole Shadare