In the ever-evolving aviation and airline sectors, the demand for top-tier talent continues to shape its trajectory. As we navigate the dynamic currents of this year, it's time to cast a spotlight on the individuals who stand at the forefront of this demand, driving innovation, safety, and operational excellence.
The top people in demand take us beyond the cockpit, unravelling the diverse positions that play pivotal roles in the aviation landscape. The top 10 individuals in demand represent the heartbeat of sectors that propel us skyward.
After careful data analysis, our top 10 most in-demand people in the aviation and airline sectors include:
Safety and Compliance Managers
The shortage of safety and compliance managers in the aviation and airline sectors stems from several factors shaping the sector's landscape. As the demand for air travel experiences growth, there is a corresponding need for professionals who can navigate the complexities of safety and compliance within the highly regulated aviation environment.
“The retirement of experienced safety and compliance managers further exacerbates the talent gap. Many seasoned professionals, equipped with a wealth of industry knowledge, are leaving the workforce, and finding qualified successors with the requisite specialised skill set proves challenging,” says Aimee Simpson, Team Leader of GOOSE Recruitment. “The global nature of the aviation sector adds another layer of complexity, requiring professionals who understand both national and international regulatory nuances.”
The increasing complexity of aircraft systems and the continual adoption of new technologies present ongoing challenges. Safety and compliance managers must stay up to date with these advancements to ensure that safety protocols evolve in tandem. The sector's inherent risks, ranging from geopolitical factors to cybersecurity threats and public health emergencies, underscore the critical role these professionals play in effective risk management.
Chief Commercial Officers (CCOs)
The demand for aviation and airline-specific executive search has grown this year. In particular, we have seen more requests for appointing an executive search firm for chief commercial officer opportunities.
“As the sectors have evolved post-pandemic, CCOs are playing a vital part in adapting to market dynamics, identifying opportunities, and implementing revenue-maximising initiatives,” shares Simpson.
In addition, we are seeing a growing emphasis on succession planning underscoring the strategic importance of these leaders in ensuring a seamless transition of leadership.
This is not a new trend, but a skill shortage that is getting worse and more urgent. As flight operations have returned and airlines and aviation businesses have wanted to expand, they have been left with the worst shortage of these skilled individuals than has ever been seen before.
We are at the point where it is mission-critical for so many airlines and aviation businesses to find B1 and B2 Engineers. Martin Bennell, Chief Operating Office of GOOSE Recruitment says: “It feels like we need to get back to the grassroots and make this profession highly appealing to young people again. We need to ensure that this does not get worse in the future as the sector will not cope.”
Whilst the future is starting to look bleak, some of the findings from our MRO & Engineering Survey 2023 may bring some positivity and ideas to what can be done. 78% of the respondents said they felt optimistic about their future career prospects. “When people feel optimistic about their future career prospects, it can mean they think they can learn new skills, take on more responsibility and get help to grow professionally. These are all fantastic things that employers and the sector can promote to new talent.”
Quality managers are instrumental in developing and implementing risk management strategies. This strategic approach helps anticipate, mitigate, and respond to potential risks, safeguarding both the business and its stakeholders. “With generally only one in each business there is not a surplus of these people to attract in or replace internally when the post-holder resigns or retires,” says Bennell. “Long notice periods and last-minute counteroffers are stalling recruitment processes too.”
Some aviation businesses have had to turn to temporary solutions through consultancy firms when a permanent replacement has not been found. “On top of this, the attractiveness of working for consultancy firms has also increased as many can do temporary assignments from the comfort of their own homes.”
As safety continues to be the cornerstone of aviation, airworthiness engineers are on the frontline of this commitment. Simpson says “By meticulously evaluating and approving changes to aircraft, they contribute significantly to accident prevention and the overall safety of flight operations, prioritising the well-being of passengers and crew.”
Just like B1 and B2 Engineers, as flight operations have returned to normal, and grown, the need for airworthiness has increased with it. “Skill shortages are a problem and I can unfortunately see it getting worse. Many seasoned airworthiness engineers are approaching retirement age and there is a noticeable gap of new talent available to replace them.”
The growing trend is that aviation businesses and airlines need people who possess specialised knowledge across technological advancements. The shortage is intensified by the time to develop and impart expertise in new cutting-edge technologies.
We see a growing gap at the entry level for operations controllers. Airlines and aviation businesses need people who have exceptional communication skills. “Communication is essential in this role to ensure safety, coordination, operational efficiency, emergency response, overcoming language barriers and providing excellent customer service,” says Bennell.
On top of communication, employers need people who can actively show that they are resilient and flexible, other key traits we see in excellent operations controllers.
“Resilience is one of the key traits we get asked for in all roles in aviation now. It is an important trait for people to have due to the ever-changing world we are living in. From economic uncertainty, geopolitical conflict and social injustice, businesses need resilient people who can work through and perform effectively in their roles even in the worst of times. The COVID-19 pandemic brought this higher up the agenda.”
We wouldn’t say there is an overall pilot shortage, but there are some niche areas that have developed. “Due to fewer pilots holding these type ratings, we have seen an uptick in demand for pilots for aircraft including the Challenger, Gulfstream, Global Vision and Rotary - AW109,” says Simpson. On top of that, there is a high demand for captains for A320 and B737 aircraft, which is simply down to the number of airlines that have these in their fleet.
“Brexit has made an impact on the market and certainly in the UK it has decreased skill pools. We have also found that some pilots are less inclined to want to relocate than they were before the pandemic. Filling pilot roles in the Middle East and Africa has been particularly tricky post-COVID.”
The growing concern for the aviation and airline sectors is the loss of talent that was developed during the pandemic. With retirement rates growing in the Americas and Asia-Pacific pilot markets, finding the people who can be our future pilots is still a must.
Training and Development Managers
A role that was particularly hard hit with redundancies in the pandemic was training and development managers. Now that many airlines and aviation businesses are rebuilding their teams, the role of training and development managers has become critical.
“Now that employers have gone through a period of recruitment, they now need the people back in their teams to train and develop these people. Their expertise in designing and implementing training programs is crucial for equipping new hires with the specific skills and knowledge required in the aviation sector. Moreover, these managers play a pivotal role in upskilling existing employees to adapt to the technological advancements and changing demands of the aviation landscape,” says Bennell.
NDT Technicians – Non-Destructive Testing
Finding qualified NDT technicians has become a formidable challenge, primarily due to the niche nature of their expertise and the limited number of professionals in the market.
Simpson shares “This unique skillset of various testing methods means these people are a rare commodity in the market. We are limited by the number of individuals pursuing careers in this field. The scarcity has meant that some aviation businesses are now looking outside the sector for complementary skillsets that can be transferred across with additional training and development,”
“I think that aviation as a whole will want to work with educational institutions to highlight the career and the skills needed for this job. Markets where there are numerous opportunities but limited talent can become attractive to those who are eager to establish employment quickly. On top of this, if aviation businesses can create internal training programs, we may also see more apprenticeships and entry-level positions become available, with a future mindset of creating their talent pipeline.”
The market for charter brokers has not changed since last year, if anything the demand for these people continues to grow. “If there was a group of individuals that could be accused of job-hopping right now, it would be Charter Brokers, but for good reason,” says Bennell.
Experienced Charter Brokers with a good book of business and a strong sales background are in demand and a hot skillset. “We’ve seen new start-ups as well as the consolidation of businesses in the marketplace. These businesses need people who can make money tomorrow and so fantastic packages are being offered”.
Employers are less interested in how long an individual’s last tenures were with a business. “If they think they can make money quickly, they want to interview them and get them started, the sooner the better.”
A closer look at the top 10 individuals in demand reveals a complex tapestry of talent shaping the trajectory of the aviation and airline sectors.
Leaders must invest in education, training, and innovative recruitment strategies to address skill shortages and foster the next generation of aviation professionals. As challenges evolve, so must the sector's response to ensure sustained growth, safety, and excellence in the aviation and airline sectors globally.
If you currently need help and support with your hiring efforts, please get in touch with our team.