Monday, April 02, 2012

Africa to pool resources for joint aviation training

African states are at an advanced stage of forming a pact against skills shortage in the local aviation industry.

Africa which has been the continent most hit by an acute shortage of aviation personnel, mainly due to limited talent development capacity and poaching of existing talent in the past few years by airlines from other continents, has been grappling for a solution.

According to figures by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), Director General, Hillary Kioko, Kenya has a deficit of about 800 professionals ranging from pilots, aeronautical engineers, air traffic controllers, aeronautical information officers, flight dispatchers, and air cargo personnel among others.

“There is a general shortage of aviation professionals not only in Kenya but worldwide, here in Kenya the aviation industry is growing very fast with and has a target of producing about 2000 professionals in the fields of pilots, engineers and traffic controllers, in the immediate future,” he said.

“Some of our professionals have been finding greener pastures elsewhere in the world and this has been a problem for some time...this is why we have realized Africa has to find ways of crossing to the expected requirements,” Mr Kioko said.

Mr Kioko was speaking at the Kenyatta International Conference (KICC), in Nairobi on Monday, during the Consultative Assembly of the Association of African Aviation Training Organization (AATO), a forum co-jointly hosted by the International Civil Aviation Organization East and South Regional Office and the Kenya Civil Authority (KCAA) with the objective of charting a way forward in dealing with the problem.

At the meeting it was announced that AATO had already formed a network of schools to develop aviation courses. East African School of Aviation (EASA) was issued a certificate to prepare the courses.

EASA together with other similar institutions in Africa, with the coordination of ICAO have been working on a program through the Association of African Aviation Training Organizations (AATO) to form an African association to chart the way forward to meet the training gap.
The Secretary General, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Raymond Benjamin said Africa as a continent was racing against time in the formation of the association.

“Time is scarce and the gap is there already,” he said during an interview, “as you know the growth of aviation will in the coming years mainly be in Africa, the Gulf and in Asia and you will need these professionals since other countries are already taking your professionals, so you will need to train more and more people.”

Globally the industry, he said requires 500,000 skilled professionals in the various aviation fields.

The Conference aims to address the skills gap in the aviation industry; review and agree on the framework for the creation of the training Association incorporating the membership of approved centers of excellence, deliberate on the AATO constitution, as well as look into the harmonization of training programs in Africa.

The association is expected to establish Centres of excellence in various training fields of aviation across Africa.

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