Aviation has had a positive few years and the outlook is good. In 2018, profits are forecast to top $38 billion off the back of $824 billion in revenues. By 2035, more than 7 billion travelers are expected to use airline services.
Amid the optimism, there is concern about who is going to man the vacancies being created, and how these personnel are going to be trained.
Training providers in the aviation industry must cater to a demand whereby both the number of skilled personnel and the breadth of the skills they require continue to increase. This is no small challenge.
Increasing the difficulty is the fact that the next generation of aviation professionals are millennials and Generation Z: those born after the turn of the century. This generation wants new ways of learning over and above the traditional classroom in which their teachers were trained.
This desire must be met while ensuring that the knowledge transfer is not diluted, because of either the way students train or the medium used.
Training departments are looking for richer, more relevant experiences that leverage technology advances. Simulation exercises are one way forward. These are already being included as part of IATA’s curriculum for specific courses to allow participants to experience the practical adaptation of their theoretical learning in a simulated real-life environment.
Future managers in a variety of disciplines stand to benefit. To train airport strategic managers, IATA teamed up with Lockheed Martin to create traffic forecast scenarios, capacity scenarios, aviation and non-aviation revenues estimations, and cost scenarios.
Cargo managers are being taught to make executive-level decisions using real cargo industry data (Cargo IS). And revenue management courses are being adapted so that participants gain hand-on experience in a competitive environment.
IATA’s most recent introduction of simulation is in its duo of Revenue Management courses that are being rolled out. These courses include hands-on practice to validate the learning in the classroom with the new sophisticated IATA Revenue Management (RM) simulator tool. The unique RM simulator allows the participants to experience day-to-day management of their own airline in a competitive environment, using the full range of tactics and features of a complex revenue management system.
Simulation is being taken one step further with virtual reality training. IATA’s RampVR is a virtual reality training tool for ground operations that has been incorporated into two courses—introducing a safe learning environment in an innovative format.
Even bolder steps are being taken through gamification programs that bridge the generational gap. IATA has just launched the Airline Manager 2 app for all budding aviation professionals to hone their skills.
For those students who choose to learn online, technology-based blended learning is most often the option of choice.
Virtual training is evolving with asynchronous activities that include self-study video lectures and e-learning quizzes, collaborative forums, and shared documentary resources. There are still real-time touchpoints, meaning best practice also includes live plenary sessions and scheduled team and individual contact points with the instructor.
Overall, diversification and capitalizing on the most appropriate learning medium for the subject matter allow training providers to accommodate a range of adult learning styles.
As aviation strives to sustainably connect and enrich the world, the complete replacement of face-to-face classroom training is improbable. There are benefits associated with interpersonal, face-to-face dialogue and networking that are difficult to replace with an entirely remote learning scenario.
But ensuring training is relevant and appropriate is one of the most important things we can do for future generations. That is the best way to provide this generation of aviation professionals—as well as the next one—with quality, relevant and accessible training.
Words: Guy Brazeau
“This generation wants new ways of learning over and above the traditional classroom in which their teachers were trained” – Guy Brazeau, Director, IATA Training and Consulting