The recent downturn in Europe's air transportation sector is expected to be a temporary blip in an otherwise general upward growth trend going back decades. While the industry faces many real and unsolved physical constraints to further growth, many believe that solutions will depend foremost on adequate human resources. The EU-funded 'Assessing the educational gaps in aeronautics and air transport' (EDUCAIR) project aimed to match training supply to the industry's personnel demand. Further goals of the five-member group included identifying factors of attraction and repulsion to the industry, and forecasting the aviation employment profile for 2020. The project also reviewed the EU's current aviation-related educational offerings. EDUCAIR operated for 18 months to July 2013. Analysis of attraction, based on an online survey for stakeholders, revealed three key factors: fascination, challenge and employment benefits. The survey found repulsive factors to include excessive regulation, too much theory without connection to practice and insufficient practical working time. The student-supplied information was similar except for the first item, but included the difficulty and length of the programme. A set of seven skills were identified, with problem solving being rated highest and theoretical background lowest. Otherwise, no clear patterns were obvious, though the relevance of all skills to an aviation career is widely recognised. The students' competence assessment showed a wide gap in all educational backgrounds; similarly, the employees' assessment showed a gap in about half the criteria. Neither issue is of concern. However, the worrisome gaps are those emerging from high-relevance but low-frequency teaching, as they show misalignment between educational curricula and company needs. That situation may lead to incompletely competent graduates. The project proposed information exchange between schools and employers. Given the scarcity of data on aviation employment and training, the project recommended the establishment of a European observatory to monitor the issues. As a result of EDUCAIR's work, the gaps between training and employment in aviation are clearer. The information can help guide research and policy, also to improve the relevance and quality of aviation training, which will improve aviation services.
Aviation, training services, employment needs, air transportation, growth, human resources