European Airlines Increase Demand for Tech Specialists

 - July 31, 2013, 1:35 PM

Increasing traffic and a growing number of aircraft in Europe could have significant negative consequences in the U.S., as demand for technical specialists in Europe draws on an already shrinking talent pool in the U.S.

“According to the most recent forecasts, the numbers for both traffic and aircraft in Europe have been rising steadily since 2008 and are expected to double during the upcoming 20 years. The expectation of 7,460 new aircraft in the region paints quite an optimistic picture,” said Skaiste Knyzaite, CEO of “Of course, this kind of development will create a high demand for trained personnel, from experienced pilots to certified maintenance specialists. In fact, the signs of these processes are already noticeable.” Knyzaite estimates European demand for new technicians will reach 129,700 over the next 20 years.

“Needless to say, the changing market will primarily affect training providers. These processes require time, and the development of the industry is keeping the recruitment companies busy as well, since they need to demonstrate the knowledge and capability to provide their clients’ maintenance centers with various types of engineers and other technical staff, fully certified for all the necessary repair and overhaul services,” he said. “On the other hand, such trends in aircraft maintenance management open up new job opportunities not only for companies but also for the technicians themselves. European airspace is becoming increasingly busy, which is especially relevant to professionals in search of a job that doesn’t necessarily involve moving to Asia or the Middle East, since now they can choose from potential employment destinations that are closer to their home.”

Dr. Tara Harl, executive director of Minneapolis-based Aviation Workforce Development, sees the demand in Europe as potentially harmful to the U.S. “If you look at our university aviation programs today, you’ll find a growing number of foreign students. As the international demand for technicians builds I can see a time when a large number of foreign students will come to the U.S. for their education. Foreign airlines, for example, will pay huge sums of money to get pilots and mechanics trained in the U.S. If you run a university program and someone offers you an enormous amount of money to train their personnel, of course you’re going to take them up on the offer. The problem is they’ll be filling slots to the point that U.S. students won’t be able to find training, which will [constrict] our source of technical talent in the U.S,” she told AIN.

The other negative influence on a U.S. technical employee base is the appeal of working overseas. “As the demand by foreign operators for employees increases, they will recruit from our existing workforce and from American students enrolled in our universities,” Harl predicts. “They will offer students phenomenal deals to relocate to their country. The biggest financial challenge our students face is the cost of their training. Foreign airlines often offer to pay for students’ education if they’ll sign a contract to work for them for a fixed number of years.”

Harl also said the greater the need for employees, the sweeter the offers become to convince trained personnel to relocate to another country. “We’ve seen deals that include beautiful housing with cooks, household staff and nannies; very high salaries; and free round-trip tickets home several times a year. As demand increases, you’ll see those incentives grow correspondingly, and they will lure many of our kids overseas,” she said. “We’re living in a global economy and the increasing demand for pilots, mechanics and other technically trained individuals anywhere has repercussions everywhere. I foresee other governments starting to recruit our air traffic control specialists too. As the rise in demand in Asia and Europe continues it will have a significant negative effect on meeting the technical manpower needs of U.S. industry.”