The aviation industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. It has been reported that by 2030 air traffic volume would increase by 50 percent. Although this is encouraging, the worry is that currently the aviation industry is dominated by a generation of individuals over the age of 40.
Poppy Khoza, the Director of Civil Aviation (an equivalent of CEO) at the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA), said there are plans in place to introduce more people into the aviation industry.
“It is true that the aviation industry still lags behind in terms of transformation. Without a decisive intervention, this lethargic transformation pace will continue and be the legacy we leave behind for future generations. Having said that though, we have not lost hope and are in fact implementing various initiatives,” said Khoza.
One such initiative is the Joint Aviation Awareness Programme (JAAP), an initiative championed by the Department of Transport (DoT), that aims to provide previously disadvantaged youth with access to aviation awareness and career development.
JAAP visits over 400 schools across the country every year. In the process, over 10,000 learners, especially those who are in Grade 11 and 12 are introduced to various careers and opportunities in the aviation sector.
“We have noted that once we have sparked the youth’s interest in aviation, their chances of fulfilling their dreams are dashed by the lack of money. That is why SACAA introduced a bursary scheme to support these kids in their quests to enter the aviation industry.”
In the last financial year, the SACAA spent R2 million to train 27 young and aspiring aviators, the majority of which are females from economically depressed and rural households. The recipients of the funding are training towards becoming, among others, pilots, aircraft avionics technicians, aircraft maintenance engineers, aeronautical engineers.
The aviation sector is said to support approximately 227,000 jobs in South Africa with a contribution of contributed R74 billion to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“The aviation industry is a key driver of economic growth; and it is about time that women and the youth stake their claim in it,” Khoza concluded.