Manpower development and management is key to the growth of the Nigerian aviation industry, as it can galvanise the industry to succeed most especially considering the present situation the sector found itself.
These were the words of the former Director of flight Operations(DFO),Air Peace, Capt .Tunde Adekoya, who was the guest speaker at a conference organised by the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology Alumni Association(NCATAA) at the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority(NCAA)Annex, Murtala Muhammed Airport(MMA),Lagos.
Speaking at the conference with the theme, ”Human Resources Development in Nigerian Aviation Challenges and Imperatives” Adekoya posited that manpower development and management was crucial to the Nigeria air transport sector that is witnessing some hiccups.
He warned that to ignore this means that the growth of the country’s aviation would be retarded.
According to him, “Human Capital development and management is pivotal to the success of any service oriented industry such as Aviation. If well marshaled, it can propel the industry to a zenith of prosperity and relevance as key economic index especially in a setting such as Nigeria finds itself today. On the other hand, to pay apathy to this subject is a recipe for disgruntled workforce, chaos, industry dwarfism or atrophy and colossal economic loss.”
The former Air Peace DFO explained that the work force in aviation industry could be generally classified into two groups ; the skilled and non-skilled, adding that the non-skilled category could be sourced from the pool of job applicants and given tailor-made job orientation; usually of short duration to equip them for the work place.
The skilled workforce, he stated were usually licensed as an attestation of competence to perform key duties critical to the objective of the organisation, stressing that any negligence in the performance of duty by these skilled workers are subject to state sanctions and or prosecution in courts of law.
He added that because this reason that minimum levels of experience in specified positions were prescribed as entry requirements.
The guest speaker stated that qualifying for a position in the skilled category implies; acquiring specialised training institution for basic and advanced certification, having On the Job Training (OJT) for line experience and skill acquisition, a time lapse of three to five years post certification and a tidy sum of money expended in the process ranging from N10 to 50 million per candidate.
Adekoya noted that getting the desired manpower in the skilled category calls for visionary leadership, planning and projection, phased training programme and huge capital outlay often in foreign currency.
He listed the factors that must be present for any set up within the aviation industry to get it right to include: organizational discipline and passion for aviation, long term prospect for survivability and profitability, an enabling operating environment and deep pocket
An organisation that went this far, he posited cannot afford to see its human capital loafing, adding that presently there is a mismatch in the provision manpower in the industry.
In his words, “Currently, there is a mismatch and lopsidedness in the provisioning of manpower for the Industry in Nigeria. This is an unhealthy outlook.”
He stated that while the rest of the aviation world is currently battling with how to attract its young generation to take up careers in the industry so as to address the crisis of acute shortage of entry level manpower but in Nigeria, the reverse is the case.
Adekoya added that while the country has a dearth of critical manpower at the higher operational level,there is a glut at the entry level, adding that as a result Nigeria aviation industry have resorted to hiring experts from other countries including bother African countries to bridge the gap.
He said that where the industry failed to do so by reason of certain constraints, the services provided in the sector suffer to the detriment of safety and competitiveness.
“Statistically, there are over 500 pilots and much more aircraft engineers without employment in Nigeria today. Cabin crew and Flight Dispatchers are also in their hundreds without jobs. I dare not delve into the dilemma of other support services personnel in their thousands who have received training of sorts only to swell the number of the unemployed. This has proved to be a challenge for the industry that is facing the decline of older professionals who have or are crossing the 60 years age limit and the 65 years limit for pilots. “
The conference, which was first of its kind in the association was attended by the Managing Director of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency(NAMA),Engr Ibrahim Abdulsalam, the Rector of NCAT, Sam Caulcrick , pilots, engineers, Air Traffic Controllers(ATCs) and other ex-students of the college.