As part of its unwavering efforts to enhance Emiratisation in the local civil aviation sector in the UAE, a GCAA delegation has cooperated with the US Federal Aviation Administration, FAA, in conducting a benchmarking study.
The aim of the study is to showcase the US Administration's experience in attracting young talent to work in civil aviation and promote a general interest in aviation among emerging generations.
The UAE delegation was headed by the Assistant Director-General, Strategy and International Affairs, Ms. Laila Ali Hareb Al Muhairi, and included Salem Al Shamsi, Manager, External Affairs, and Shahid Qadeer, Senior Specialist Strategy and Performance.
Over a period of seven days, the delegation visited FAA's Aviation and Space Education Division, responsible for developing academic and non-academic educational programmes to ensure learners are familiar with the civil aviation sector and its available job opportunities. Further, GCAA delegation were briefed on the history of the Civil Aviation Culture Promotion Programme.
"GCAA shall continue to implement plans and policies which aim to supporting Emiratisation in the civil aviation sector, out of its belief in the importance of increasing Emiratisation rates on a larger scale, compared to the current status," said GCAA Director-General, Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi. He continued, "Our goal is to ensure a state of stability and security by recruiting national staff who are capable of taking the responsibility of running the aviation sector. The benchmarking study carried out with US FAA surely enhances GCAA's plans for the Emiratisation of the civil aviation sector in the UAE." On her part, Laila Ali Hareb Al Muhairi pointed out that the US civil aviation experience in attracting young American talent to the sector is one of the most successful around the world. She added that key success factors for any Emiratisation programme is to engage all civil aviation stakeholders, including airports, national airlines, air navigation service providers, aircraft maintenance companies, etc. Hareb also noted that the Emiratisation programme priority would be assigned to the positions of pilots, engineers, air traffic controllers and ground crews.
Drawing a comparison with FAA's statistics, Al Muhairi said that the information available on the current Emiratisation percentages in the civil aviation sector is not accurate, which requires the gathering of clear and accurate information to identify gaps and workforce requirements. She pointed out that the GCAA's task is not only to develop the Emiratisation study, but also to continue to monitor the implementation of the plan and update it in the light of local and global developments.
A report issued by the GCAA concluded that despite the fact that the civil aviation sector can accommodate thousands of Emiratis in jobs across its various departments and divisions, thanks to the airlines' ambitious growth plans and huge expansion plans for airports' infrastructure, there are still a number of challenges.
The most notable of these challenges is the absence of aviation competence among national staff, as well as a lack of accident investigation skills, which requires many years of experience. In addition, there are difficulties related to attracting enough Emiratis with adequate administrative and technical expertise to meet the ambitious goals of Emiratisation in such a highly-specialised industry. In addition, the amount of time needed to prepare future leaders with robust technical expertise necessitates the speeding up of human capital training and preparation, to ensure enough competent staff are available.
According to GCAA reports, certain technical specialisations requiring advanced levels of expertise and qualifications within civil aviation face significant shortages of skilled and qualified national staff. Some specialisations require a training and preparation period of 10 years or even more.
Furthermore, GCAA is set to implement a number of programmes and plans that were showcased during the visit to FAA in order to enhance Emiratisation percentages in the local civil aviation sector in general, and within GCAA in particular, with an overall objective of increasing Emiratisation to 67 percent of its staff.