Just got back from the final day of an aviation conference. The number one topic of the final roundtable discussion among airport professionals was about how to attract, retain, and engage the next generations. Chief among the comments is that there aren’t enough “qualified” candidates applying for open positions. Or, there simply weren’t any candidates applying for open positions. I think we are seeing the tail end of a problem years in the making. Earlier in the conference, a moderator asked the audience (of several hundred) if we are encouraging our own kids to get into the aviation industry. Not one hand went up. Not one. I remember when I would tell people I was an airport manager and they would ask, “so, you are an air traffic controller?” Most simply don’t understand what we do all day long. Airport professionals occupy a unique corner of the aviation industry that really hasn’t ever seen the light of day. And now we need people to join us. Bad. So, we have emerged from our caves with help wanted signs, and aren’t getting a real response. Partly because of the great economy. Partly because many just don’t really understand what we do. I suspect the long-term response has to be more than a job description and a help wanted listing online.
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