Tackling pilot unemployment through airline investment
Jan. 23 (THEWILL) – In 2019, the number of unemployed pilots was estimated to be over 500, according to former rector of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Captain Abdullahi Mohammed.
The number of these pilots trained but still waiting for employment seems to be increasing day by day, especially in the local aviation industry.
A major concern is that many of these professionals and even aeronautical engineers are still roaming the streets jobless after spending huge resources on training. At NCAT, for example, the average cost of training a pilot is around $50,000; However, the fees paid by foreign and local students differ because the cost of the latter is heavily subsidized. Even after spending so much on training, jobs are usually out of reach for the newly graduated pilot, unless favored by the type rating system.
A type rating is an authorization entered on or associated with and forming part of a pilot’s license, indicating his privileges or limitations relating to certain types of aircraft. Such a rating requires additional training beyond the scope of the initial license and aircraft class training.
However, experts noted that the problem is not just with type rating, but with experience. For example, even when some newly trained pilots come back from America, they still don’t get jobs because they haven’t accumulated the necessary hours. Different airlines have different requirements. Most airlines require a certain minimum number of hours for insurance purposes before you can fly their aircraft.
National carrier/flag carrier to the rescue
Aviation experts say one way to solve pilot unemployment is to invest heavily in airlines, whether in the form of a national carrier or a flag carrier.
A flag carrier means any aircraft operated by or on behalf of the government, while the flag carrier is an airline which, being registered locally in a given sovereign state, enjoys preferential rights or privileges granted by the government for operations international. By investing in any type of carrier, analysts believe massive jobs will be created for both pilots, aeronautical engineers, air traffic controllers and even flight attendants.
Giving up hope for a national carrier, Aviation Minister Senator Hadi Sirika vowed a few months ago that by April 2022, Nigeria would have a new national carrier.
Sirika had said the new airline would have 51% of its shares held by the federal government and the people, with foreign partners holding the remaining 49%.
He reiterated that the federal government will not hold more than 5% of the capital of the new national carrier, while stressing that no less than 70,000 jobs would be created with the birth of the airline.
Reacting to the Minister’s promise, the Chairman of the Aviation Round Table (ART), Dr Gbenga Olowo said he was not concerned about the time of entry or exit of any carrier, adding that his ardent desire was to see the emergence of a strong, effective network on a global scale. competitive Nigerian airlines.
Dr Olowo noted that the weight thrown by the Federal Government on the Air Peace/Emirates trade negotiations in the disagreement with the United Arab Emirates is a confirmation that Nigeria has already endorsed this flag carrier by throwing its weight behind them.
“I am confident that the same steam will be deployed to clean up all the routes that show a negative balance of trade to Nigeria due to Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASA) till date. No thanks to corruption.
“The government should embrace all destinations served by all countries, so far in preparation for one or two more Nigerian national carriers,” Olowo said.
In a similar vein, the rector of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Zaria, Capt Alkali Modibbo, has indicated that the only way to get pilot or engineering jobs is to further industrialize aviation by having more airlines and ATOs.
Call for the diversification of pilots
According to Capt Modibbo, pilots should not insist on flying alone, but they can also work in agencies and the ministry as a pilot or an engineer.
“The only way to get pilot or engineering jobs is to further industrialize aviation by having more airlines and working in the agencies and ministry as a pilot or engineer. It is not necessary that you have to fly or repair an airplane.You can work in any agency as a pilot.
“If you look at Captain Rabiu Yadudu, the Chief Executive of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), is a pilot. The former Director General of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, Captain Fola Akinkuotu, was a pilot and the same goes for Captain Musa Nuhu, Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Organization ( NCAA). In addition, the current Commissioner of the Accident Investigation Board, Eng. Akin Olateru, is a pilot, like many others.
“So there are jobs there. Pilots and engineers should not limit themselves to flying or repairing planes. The goal of every pilot is to fly, but when the jobs don’t come, you can work in any agency or in the Ministry of Aviation. We look forward to the federal government opening up more opportunities for Airmen,” he said.
Role of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology
The Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) has over 50 years of experience in human resource development in the aviation industry in Africa and is on its way to becoming a reputable global provider of aviation training.
Since its inception, NCAT has trained over 20,000 professionals for the aviation industry in Nigeria and beyond.
About three years ago, NCAT was upgraded to a Regional Training Center of Excellence (RTCE), while the NCAA recently approved it as an Approved Training Organization (ATO).
Speaking on the benefits of NCAT’s international status, the Rector said: “It is an Approved Training Organization (ATO) and we have had renewals every year and the Regional Training Center of Excellence ( RTCE) is a certification from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The advantage of this certification is that we can increase training activities like ICAO training courses and conventional College courses. In 2021, we have had over 50 courses taught at this College despite the COVID-19 pandemic and we are still teaching these courses.
“So they become employable, these pilots need to rack up those hours. That’s where General Aviation comes in, because they don’t have those requirements. We encourage young pilots to go into general aviation. This is the practice all over the world. If they are able to accumulate more hours, it will make them marketable and employable.
“That’s why we are here. We continue to hire younger staff and it is an ongoing process. We continue to hire younger people to replace those retiring and when you retire, but not tired, we still contract you to influence your knowledge and experience on the next generation of instructors,” added Capt Modibbo.
Despite the level of workforce development strategy adopted for aviation in Nigeria, there is a need to invest heavily in local airlines, where new pilots can start and build their careers. This can take the form of a national carrier or a flag carrier.