2022 saw the world emerge from the constraints of the pandemic only to be hit suddenly by the Ukraine conflict. The ensuing shockwaves have led to soaring energy prices, rising inflation and a cost-of-living crisis for millions around the globe. While recessionary forces are looming large, we find ourselves in somewhat of a paradox, as hiring sentiment remains and skills shortages persist.
During the pandemic, talent left the aviation industry in droves either due to retirement or the impact of the ‘Great Resignation’ as many decided to re-evaluate their careers. Although the majority of those were in the over-50s age group, younger cohorts too followed suit after furlough (length of training and costs were also barriers for pilots).
While some regions will be more dependent on seasonal tourism and rely on temporary hiring solutions, the key market geographies we cover in the US, EMEA and APAC are also looking to ramp up their permanent staff, returning to near pre-COVID capacity levels.
So what are the key aviation recruitment trends in 2023?
We’re going to see a surge in demand
Despite the economic turbulence, the reopening of borders has injected new life into the tourism sector as individuals can satisfy their desire for travel to make up for the lost years of the pandemic. China is the notable exception, as local and regional carriers must wait to see how the COVID situation plays out before ramping up hiring activity.
Skill shortages will remain an ongoing challenge
While aviation training schools are working hard to help plug the gaps, the industry is in need of experienced professionals such as senior captains, senior engineers, trainers and examiners, both for permanent and temporary roles. But they will have to hunt for talent in external markets. Certain aircraft fleets are experiencing staff shortages, such as the A380, B787 and A350, while others have sufficient supply for the time being.
You need an effective talent attraction strategy
Companies must offer higher salaries than pre-COVID levels, especially if they want to lure back homegrown talent who left to seek out more lucrative opportunities abroad. India is a prime example of a country affected in this way, losing people to the riches of the Middle East. And as we saw in our pilot survey, benefits such as flexible working and attractive commuting rosters are very important to individuals and will help boost retention.
The hiring experience must be a focal point
If hiring processes aren’t quick and easy, candidates will lose interest. From the initial job posting and sourcing, to candidate screening (for some roles such as cabin crew in-person is preferred) shortlisting, through to the job offer, significant efficiencies can be realised. A comprehensive onboarding programme is also an often neglected aspect of the hiring process yet can make such a difference to job longevity, loyalty and ROI.
Some final thoughts
Make your first move in 2023
The rebound in the travel sector will mean greater demand for aviation professionals in 2023. But the supply of talent will become restricted, which is why a ‘first mover’ advantage is so important when it comes to recruiting. Sourcing the right talent, whether it be pilots, cabin crew or more technical engineering roles will become progressively harder throughout 2023. It is worth pointing out also that the skills of technical staff are often more transferable to other sectors than say a pilot who would require more time and investment to change career.
Planning is key
Recruitment strategies need to be formulated well in advance. And airlines need to start planning now. Those airlines that do will have more success than those who wait until demand picks up. The longer the recruitment planning horizon, the higher the quality of candidates that they will be able to attract.
Otherwise, airlines run the risk of not having the personnel and crews to cope with the upsurge in demand for services. They could be forced into grounding their aircraft, which would have significant financial consequences. It will also have a negative effect on their employer's brand and reputation – making it even harder to attract the talent they need.
Improve your talent attraction strategy
While there is clearly work to be done to regain lost ground and make the industry attractive once again to existing and new candidates, it’s a time of opportunity. Airlines that focus on their talent attraction strategies and support staff financially and emotionally will reap the benefits of improved engagement, loyalty and productivity.
How we can help you with your 2023 recruitment plan
With our global footprint and access to our candidate database, Rishworth Aviation is uniquely placed to help you explore new talent pools among pilots, engineers, cabin crew and management. For over 35 years, our bespoke solutions give our clients the tools and customization they need to thrive in this unprecedented market. We have worked with over 100 airlines and aviation companies that have trusted us to resource their business. Part of the global Empresaria Group, we are ready to deploy our staffing expertise.