Airlines are looking for improvements to address the shortage of ground handlers at airports

Kings Nwachukwu

Kings Nwachukwu

Airline operators have urged for an urgent revision of the recruitment process to allow more hands into the important sub-sector of aviation, citing a scarcity of ground handling employees at key airports around the world.

At a ground handling conference yesterday, airlines under the auspices of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) stated the sub-sector was in need of a holistic makeover to manage the long-term demand for a solid talent base.

Thousands of ground handlers departed the aviation industry as a result of the epidemic. As the aviation industry grows, a significant scarcity of experienced ground handlers is highlighting the need for reform to keep the labor pool stable.

The most serious concern in the short term is the security clearance bottleneck as the airline sector prepares for the peak summer season. IATA recommends that the ground handling industry build a stronger talent acquisition strategy, expedite onboarding processes, and develop a more appealing retention proposition in the long run.

Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Operations, Safety, and Security, observed that the peak summer travel season was rapidly approaching, and travelers were already encountering bottlenecks in obtaining security clearances for airport workers.

“More resources are required to speed up the processing of job security clearances, which can take up to six months in some areas.” “The current shortages are a symptom of the longer-term difficulty of establishing a stable talent base in ground handling,” Careen explained.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) advocated a complete approach to recruitment, onboarding, and retention. The airlines stressed the need of attracting new talent when it came to recruitment. Perceptions generated during the pandemic, especially the critical retrenchment of significant numbers of workers, including those in ground handling, make this even more difficult.

IATA advised a public awareness campaign to promote the value and relevance of ground operations in global logistics and transportation operations, as well as the implementation of the 25 by 25 initiative to help solve the industry’s gender imbalance. IATA also wants apprenticeships in collaboration with trade schools to revitalize candidate pipelines, as well as career path mapping to provide long-term opportunities for newcomers to the industry.

On the need for more effective onboarding processes, a faster onboarding process will allow the sector to respond swiftly to demand variations, especially seasonal ones. Moving to more online training and tests would increase the speed, flexibility, and efficiency of onboarding, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Mutual acceptance of security training and employee background data by authorities will speed up onboarding and eliminate redundant procedures.

Greater standardization in retention programs will increase performance, provide employment flexibility, and expand career opportunities. To standardize ground operations, the IATA white paper advocated implementing the IATA Ground Operations Manual (IGOM). This would provide extra flexibility and opportunity for workers in terms of relocation, reassignment, and recruitment, in addition to major operational benefits and more efficient onboarding.

Additionally, training passports that recognize skills and training among ground handlers, airlines, and/or airports; and the use of new technology and automated processes to create different work options and career routes to attract a new generation of people.

“An industry-wide strategy to laying the groundwork for more efficient talent recruiting, onboarding, and retention will reap significant efficiency gains for all parties involved.”

“The acceptance of the IGOM is the cornerstone for standardization.” It will have a big and positive impact on all elements of ground handling, including talent management, when it is implemented globally. Working in the field has the potential to transform from a job to a career, according to Careen.

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