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Transformation in SA aviation industry hindered by skills shortage


October 13, 2017. AASA news. Building Human Capital for African Airlines was the theme at this year's 47th Annual General Assembly (AGA), and the challenges such as skills development, training, transformation, the economy, environmental impact and other topical issues affecting airlines, and air travel in the SADC region, dominated the addresses, debates and panel discussions. 

Sihle Zikalala, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, delivered the opening address and supported the view that the aviation sector is vitally important to driving economic growth and job creation, particulary in the tourism sector. 

"We have to continue to look at the value chain...to develop the tourism and aviation industry to enable more people to take part in it. We have to distribute the economy to as many people as possible. Government cannot succeed if it goes it alone. We must all work together to grow the aviation industry," Zikalala said.  

Zikalala also believes it is important to develop skills in the industry, and highlighted KZN's attempts to address this challenge by creating an "aerotropolis" around the King Shaka International Airport - the first purpose-planned aerotropolis in Africa - which will play a vital role in developing and up-skilling KZN youth in the aviation industry.

KZN is in the process of establishing the Aerotropolis Institute Africa (AIA) to build skills that will meet the future demands of the KZN economy. These include aviation economics, air cargo logistics, airport management, Smart City airport planning and implementation, airport environmental planning, sustainability, aviation policy and regulations, airport infrastructure planning, airport synergies, aviation maintenance and aeronautical engineering.

Transformation in the aviation industry is non-negotiable and AASA would like to see its pace increased. A challenge AASA has identified is the scarcity of funding – including at university level – and the absence of a specialist aerospace and air transport education institution in Africa. 
Chris Zweigenthal, AASA CEO 

Speaking at the AGA, AASA's Acting Chair, Mandi Samson emphasised that the scarcity of skills, especially in technical areas, is a challenge in the African aviation industry and must be addressed with training in order to ensure the safety of African skies; and that this needs buy-in from African governments and stakeholders.

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