South African Airways, the South African national carrier, celebrates Youth Month with a number of activities aimed at stimulating interest in aviation as a career option.
The national carrier’s workforce is a young one, with almost 47% of employees under the age of 40 and almost 30% aged between 31 and 38. “This young workforce demonstrates that we have the potential to build a talent pipeline over time and thus ensure the sustainability of the airline,” says Tlali Tlali, SAA Spokesperson.
The airline is hosting 319 learners from the Ekurhuleni West TVET College and the Springs FET College this week at a Careers Summit at the airline’s headquarters in Kempton Park.
“Aviation is a multi-faceted industry that can unlock opportunities for students virtually in all major disciplines. The Summit will showcase various career options and disciplines available at SAA such as Engineering, Aviation Medicine, Aviation Law, Finance, Human Resources, Aircraft Maintenance, Ground Operations, Commercial, Aircraft Operations, and Cargo.
“The Summit aims to give students at Institutions of Higher Learning an insiders’ view of how an airline operates,” says Tlali.
Besides this summit, SAA has embarked on a number of programmes to build a future workforce.
The airline provided 53 unemployed youths with the opportunity to form part of various learnership programmes currently being implemented across the business. These unemployed youths will form part of a talent pipeline which SAA will consider when filling vacancies in the relevant areas. In addition, the young people may apply for positions with other airlines, utilizing the skills they’ve acquired on the SAA learnership programmes.
SAA is contributing to the objectives of the National Developmental Plan. Since 2012, the airline has provided financial support and has trained 57 cadet pilots who have obtained their Frozen Airline Transport Pilot’s Licences, a step closer towards flying with commercial airlines.
The SAA Technical apprenticeship programme offers the young apprentices invaluable work experience in various areas in aircraft maintenance.
The recruitment campaign for a second formal graduate intake starts this month. SAA will be visiting various tertiary institutions to attract 20 graduates from a selection of disciplines such as IT, finance, logistics, economics, in-flight operations and cargo. “The objective of the programme is to enhance talent pipeline and expose young and gifted graduates to an intensive, accelerated 18-month development programme, preparing them for possible absorption into the workplace,” says Tlali.
Through SAA’s career exhibitions throughout the country, the airline introduces thousands of learners each year to the aviation sector and make them aware of the prerequisites for being part of this exciting industry.
Throughout the year SAA visits previously disadvantaged schools with its SiVulindlela truck, a Corporate Social Investment aviation awareness initiative that presents a simulated experience of the on-board aircraft operations to the learners. The truck plays an important educational role, while SAA aircraft technicians, pilots and Cabin Crew staff volunteer their time to inspire learners to pursue careers in aviation.
Aviation awareness excels with strong partnerships and SAA is continually seeking ways to support initiatives that strengthen the quality of education in general and to support career choices in this sector, where young people can learn about technical aspects, including the aviation value chain. SAA recently partnered with the Gauteng Department of Education and donated a Boeing 747 jet engine which has taken pride of place at a newly revamped school in Soweto. The Curtis Nkondo School of Specialization is now a learning facility of the future, with a core focus on subjects such as Engineering, Mathematics, Science, Information and Communications Technology, Commerce and Entrepreneurship. The engine will inspire learners and be a reminder of the kinds of careers to which their studies can lead. SAA Technical donated the engine, measuring 6,60m in length, 2,60m in width and 2,80m in height and weighing 5-6 tons.
“SAA will continue finding ways of supporting youth initiatives where young people can learn about aviation, as with these we make a valuable contribution to stimulate interest in aviation as a career choice,” says Tlali.