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Human Resources Crisis

Human Resources Crisis in the Aviation and Aerospace Industry

The aviation and aerospace industry is a vital sector of British Columbia’s economy. However, the industry is facing a serious human resource crisis, as the demand for workers exceeds the supply. Increasing this discrepancy is the existing workforce aging and retiring, taking with them decades of experience that can’t immediately be replicated in new entrants into the field. There are critical needs for talented individuals to fill various roles, including the well known pilot-shortage, but also engineers, ground personnel and management. The lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are felt in the industry, notably in the decline of granted pilot licenses from over 1000 per year pre-pandemic, to 474 in 2020, and even fewer in the years since, according to the CBC article ‘A shortage of pilots is making travel chaos in Canada even worse‘.

But what can be done? A lot, in fact, and plenty is already being done. Part of the effort is a Capstone Project, being undertaken by a group of students pursuing the Aviation Management and Operations Diploma from the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT). Their research and insights are aimed at not only understanding the root causes of the HR crisis, but also proposing solutions to attract, retain and develop the workforce necessary to sustain and advance this vital sector. Pulling from a variety of sources, locally and worldwide, such as employers, educators, and government agencies, the project aims to gather their perspectives and feedback on the issue together and provide valuable information to the BC Aviation Council members and stakeholders. 

Working Draft By BCIT Student Graduation Project – Do Not Cite

The current areas of focus, with specific details below, are as follows:

Company Hiring Models

Many companies treat their new hires and their onboarding process in wildly different ways. While not all of their procedures or tactics are one-to-one applicable to the whole of the aviation industry, there are insights that can be learned. With the large barrier to entry of new students in the form of significant upfront costs, companies should find ways to help mitigate that cost while seeking to hire, such as with the hiring model of NAV Canada and their paid training structure. 

To find what major factors affect attraction and retention in aviation, see here.

Our research into specific companies and what they are already accomplishing have led to our recommendations for ATTRACTION and RETENTION within aviation in British Columbia as a whole.

International Workforce

Aviation is a global industry, with talented individuals across the world. These highly trained, experienced and competent professionals would be a great asset to the Canadian aviation sector, providing workers to fill the gaps left by the domestic market. There are ways for the Canadian airlines and airport and aerospace employers to work in tandem with the Canadian government to encourage these professionals to join the workforce in Canada and BC. This would include enticing these individuals to come to Canada and easing their transition through immigration policy adjustments. By investigating in depth the Parliamentary Committee Testimonies, one can find the specifics of what is needed to be done on a governmental level to get these individuals to Canada.

Our recommendations can be found here.  

Mental Health in Aviation

Making sure employees want to stay with a company and that they have proper support is a great way to entice new employees. If the people working the jobs now are happy, well paid, and feel satisfied with their career, it bodes well for potential new hires. This includes measures to combat fatigue in pilots and cabin crew, supporting employee mental health and the changing priorities of the new generation of applicants. 

To see how overall employee mental health initiatives can be applied to aviation, see here.

Supporting Women in Aviation

Diversity and inclusion are crucial in tackling the aviation industry’s personnel shortage, particularly by empowering women to contribute significantly. Closing the gap in employment levels between the genders can go a long way to fill those missing positions. Advocating for family-friendly policies like maternity leave, childcare support, and on-site childcare facilities enables women to balance parenthood with their careers. Fostering an inclusive environment through flexible work options and tailored recruitment events aims to attract and retain a diverse workforce, ultimately enhancing gender diversity and promoting a sustainable future for BC’s aviation industry.

For more regarding supporting the careers of women, see here.

Industry Interaction – Interviews

Our mission is to explore the challenges and strategies of industry leaders in addressing the current issue of the personnel shortage in the region. Through these interviews, we aim to provide an insightful perspective on the innovative approaches and solutions implemented by players in British Columbia’s aviation community.

Our Team

The Capstone team (Wings Aerospace) consists of 7 students finishing their final semester at BCIT. 

Molly Copeland decided to attend BCIT as her first steps in achieving her career goal of joining NAV Canada as a Flight Service Specialist. Her interest in aviation stemmed from her family’s history in the helicopter industry, and she was excited to join Blackcomb Helicopters as a member of Ground Crew during her practicum.

Andres Estepa’s passion for aviation began at a young age and led him to acquire pilot’s licenses in the US and Colombia. He is excited to continue his learning in Canada. Andres has extensive knowledge in ground operations, SMS, and security. He is currently employed with ABCoast Aviation Services at YVR International Airport.

Susan Fraser has a background in Restaurant Management and is ready to bring her skills in leadership, people development, and business management to the aviation industry.  After completing the diploma program, she will be working on getting her Flight Dispatcher license and joining this little-known but critical area of Canadian aviation.

Ahjung Ha is an international student from Korea and has been inspired by her summer practicum with Securiguard to focus her skills in aviation security. She is eagerly embracing her role in the Canadian aviation industry and is enthusiastic about showcasing her knowledge and skills.

Sabrina Kim has always been a traveler and has developed a passion for aviation in the process. Through her studies, her interest in cargo logistics and aviation safety and security has also been piqued. She is well positioned to make a positive impact in the industry! 

Rebecca Shek was pursuing a career as a Flight Attendant in Hong Kong and, after her company closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she decided to bring her experience to the Canadian aviation industry and is excited to continue working in this dynamic field. 

Hanish Trivedi is a seasoned aviation professional with previous roles with Air Atlanta Icelandic and Swiss International Airlines. He is pursuing his diploma in Aviation Management and Operations to further increase his knowledge and build on his existing passion.

Wings Aerospace Team at YVR (Skylar Butcher, 2024)

To contact the team with questions or comments, please send an email to

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