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AVIATION WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT PRACTICES SUMMARY A workforce of trained, skilled professionals is essential to the health and growth of the avi- ation industry. In addition to the labor needs of the nation's air carriers and air traffic control workforce, thousands of the nation's airports and hundreds of aviation companies are in need of a wide range of talent to perform a wide variety of functions, from fundamental operations tasks to filling higher-level strategic management roles. Furthermore, local, state, and federal agencies, as well as aviation planning, engineering, and management consulting firms require a workforce that is both technically educated and experienced in the operation of the nation's aviation system. Despite this need, many in the industry are finding it difficult to hire and develop work- force talent with the education and skills to help advance the industry. This difficulty is the motivation for this synthesis study. The purpose of this synthesis has been to collect information and report on airport operat- ing entity jobs and related skill sets needed to perform those jobs. The synthesis also identifies opportunities and resources that provide training on the skill sets needed to fulfill airport-related jobs. Furthermore, gaps between skill sets and educational and advancement opportunities are documented. This synthesis is intended for managers of airports and other aviation industry organizations that wish to gain insight into the workforce development needs, opportunities, and resources available to the industry. This synthesis specifically excludes the commercial air carrier indus- try workforce as well as civil aviation "flight crew" professions (pilots, flight attendants, and dis- patchers). In addition, this synthesis does not specifically describe the need for further develop- ing the air traffic management workforce. Rather, this synthesis pays particular attention to the workforce that operates and supports the civil aviation infrastructure, with particular focus on airport and aviation system operations and planning, ground support professions, and technical and management positions found in government entities from the local to the national level. In addition, this synthesis is intended to supply those institutions that provide workforce development programs with a better understanding of the needs of the industry, so that they may cater their programs to best meet these needs. The study conducted for this synthesis consisted primarily of a literature-based review of existing workforce development programs, employment statistics from national and local sources, and previous publications covering the subject of workforce development in general. Sources of aviation workforce data included the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, FAA, National Association of State Aviation Officials, and local airport and aviation industry operators. To supplement this review, communication on the topic of workforce development strate- gies was conducted with a number of representatives of airports; ground service providers; universities; local, state, and federal governments; and professional organizations. This com- munication included responses to targeted e-mail queries and follow-up interviews. Approx- imately 100 airport operators, 30 colleges and universities, and 12 aviation consulting firms
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2 provided input. Airport operators participating in this study covered the spectrum of sizes (large-hub commercial service airports to small general aviation airports) and ownership structures (ranging from small municipally owned airports to airports operated under large multi-airport authorities). The colleges and universities contacted ranged from community colleges to research uni- versities, with academic degree programs and/or research activities directly applicable to the aviation industry. The consulting firms contacted ranged from small niche aviation practices to multi-national engineering companies with a portion of their practice involving airport- and aviation-related projects. In addition, a number of representatives from the FAA and aviation professional orga- nizations provided input for this report. Findings from the study conducted for this synthesis revealed that: · Workforce development in general is a multi-faceted process designed to create effi- cient and productive organizations. The process of workforce development begins before the hiring process and continues through succession planning. Furthermore, workforce development is an organizational process, focusing on how teams of indi- viduals, as well as the structure and policies of an organization as a whole, can con- tribute to overall productivity. · Workforce development needs in the aviation industry in many ways vary widely among the industry's sectors. For example, some sectors of the industry have primary workforce development interests that focus on fundamental technical training, whereas other sectors have the need to develop the analytical and strategic management skills of their workforce. · Workforce development practices in the industry currently focus on employee training. Furthermore, most training programs are provided by industry professional organiza- tions, rather than performed in-house. These resources provide training on basic tech- nical skills, as well as offer certification programs in areas relevant to higher levels of management. · There is limited specific data published about the aviation industry workforce. Much of the workforce data associated with aviation have traditionally focused on the workforce of airline employees, including crew, aircraft maintenance staff, and operational staff. Relatively little census data have been collected on the employment numbers of airport staff, state and federal government aviation agencies, and aviation support service com- panies. A more comprehensive understanding of the industry workforce may be helpful in creating workforce development programs. · There are several innovative programs that leverage the resources of both industry orga- nizations and academic institutions to target and meet the workforce development needs of the industry. Such partnerships are intended to achieve the goal of efficiently and effectively developing a productive aviation industry workforce.