Jan 30 - Feb 5, 20

Demand of engineers and technical workforce in the global aviation market is growing as the numbers of airlines and size of air fleets are increasing. From engineering to marketing, different kinds of jobs are popping out making the aviation springboard of employment opportunities.

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), the leading airline in the country, is imparting trainings to the young generations to meet the workforce needs of the air carriers in the local market. However, now the demand of these trainees who also get on the job trainings during parts of their academic learning is increasing abroad as well.

State-run PIA training centre (PTC) runs apprenticeship programmes to train intermediate students in avionics and aerospace. Generally, these apprentices are employable not only in airlines operating locally but also in international airlines since they receive rigorous practical working experiences two years out of their total three-year training.

It is notable, however, that apprentices need generally two-year working experience after accomplishment of their apprentice to be employable in any civil air transport company. This creates problems for the graduates. Not all apprentices get jobs in PIA. In fact, every new graduated batch has to endure hardships to get jobs in the airline. They are also fortunate lots since there are many who remain jobless for quite sometime. As the financial health of the airline is deteriorating day by day, the job outlook for these apprentices gets also dim. A batch passed out last year from PTC is still awaiting diploma certificates to get jobs.

Overstaffing is a major issue facing the national flag carrier. Like other public sector enterprises, recruitments under political clouts are commonplace turning the airline into a white elephant fed on public money. The collective loss of PIA has touched the dangerous mark of Rs100 billion, National Assembly Standing Committee on Defence was told in a briefing in the Parliament House recently.

Established back in 50s, PTC is providing training to not only unemployed but also to staff members of different local and international airlines and agencies. According to the institute, so far it has trained pilots, engineers, flight staffs, traffic and sales personnel of more than 30 airlines and allied organizations of Asian and African origins.

PTC's apprentice training unit offers apprentice mechanical courses in aerospace, avionics, and sheet metal spanning over three years and 12-week aircraft maintenance familiarization. Aerospace training unit provides a week or a month long training in various trades and on different aeroplanes including Boeing 777, Boeing 747-200/300, Airbus A 310-300, etc. More over, avionics training unit offers the short courses related to electronics.

Besides PIA, there are also other private aviation training institutes in the country. Pakistan civil aviation authority (CAA) has the authority to approve, suspend, or revoke licence of training centre.

Fees of PTC's apprenticeship programmes are much high than that of technical diploma programs and thus beyond the affordability of middle-income group let alone low-income households. Since the training institute is government-run, people rightly expect low fee structure. This is also need of the time. The comparable diploma programs in auto mechanics, electrics, and other occupations have low fees and are thus affordable for the masses.

Aerospace and avionics are rapidly growing field at the international level. Global economic slowdown dealt a severe blow to top and bottom lines of many famous airlines of Europe and U.S. In spite of that, maintenance, repairing, and overhaul (MRO) services industry that is an essential part of aviation sector is expected to value at $65 billion by 2020. Experts foresee much of the growth would be emanating in Asia, particularly China and India.

Over the years, there has been an increase of air travelling in India, China, and Middle East. The highest numbers of future deliveries of Boeing would be to Asia Pacific (9160 airplanes), followed by North America (8550), Europe (6900) and Middle East (1580), according to the market outlook 2007-08.

According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers research, India's MRO sector is likely to enjoy progress of 10 per cent per annum and touch the mark of $2.6 billion by 2020. The Pakistan's neighbour country has all potential to become the global/regional MRO hub due to its skilled workforce and location.

Civil aviation sector is one of the catalysts of global aerospace industry. Government of Pakistan should invest in human resource development and especially aerospace and avionics that are emerging fields and need fresh bloods for innovative solutions, are in dire need of skilled workforce.

Global aviation market is looking for cutting-edge solutions that can amp up the commercial viability, competitiveness, and environment friendliness of air transports. Alone highly skilled workforce of scientists, engineers, and technical staffs can come up with the solutions be they related to engineering designs or fuel efficiency.

Public-private partnership assumes the significant role in building capital-intensive aerospace industry, advised the research paper. This connection is needed to encourage "critical mass of capabilities, technologies, and suppliers," it added.

India's aerospace industry, which is the world's fastest growing aerospace market, can be taken as a source of inspirations. There are pluses behind it, according to the research, such as strong economic growth, swelling demand of aircrafts in local market, liberalized civil aviation policies, sturdy manufacturing base, cost benefits, skilled labours, fiscal benefits to investors, and IT progress. Barring few that are due to its huge population, these growth drivers can largely be leveraged to improve the aviation market in Pakistan. This will squirt massive splurge of economic activities as has been happened in many other countries. Beside direct employments, developed air transport infrastructure will also be instrumental in the growth of tourism sector.