The EDUCAIR project is built on the belief that the alignment of the educational and formation offers with the European air transport and aeronautics sectors' competence needs is the key for overcoming the current challenges impacting the world air transport system.
The purpose of EDUCAIR is to improve the match between needs (demand) in human resources and the educational and training offer (offer) of skills across Europe and other regions in the World. EDUCAIR will identify the air transport and aeronautics needs in terms of staff training and education in the horizon of 2020, in order to recommend improvement in the current educational offers.
EDUCAIR will identify the mismatch - or competence gap - between the needs (demand) of competences and the offer (supply) of educational curricula.
The rational of EDUCAIR is built on the belief that there is not one competence gap, but there are actually four competence gaps. These gaps result from the mismatch of the four entities (or players) in the market and education systems, being: the companies (corresponding to the employer), the employee (that works for the company), the student (or prospective employee) and the educational institution (such as: universities or research centres).
A framework of analysis will be developed and discussed to assess the various competence gaps. One of the EDUCAIR outcomes will be evaluating the gap between the number of students graduating from European schools and universities, and the needs of engineers and scientists in European industry, education and research centres, at present and in the future.
EDUCAIR team has a long experience in the participation of European funded research projects and it also actively involved in the production of educational contents.
EDUCAIR is structured in seven work packages: one with a managerial nature, one with a dissemination nature, and the remaining five with a scientific nature. The scientific work starts with the elaboration and detailing of the assessment framework. Follows three parallel work packages that are responsible for analysing the educational offer (one dedicated to the graduate and master level, and lifelong learning; and another dedicated to the doctoral and research education) and the industry needs. The final work package will assess the competence gaps based on the conceptual framework and the information meanwhile gathered.
More relevant aviation training
An EU-funded project found some misalignment between European aviation training services and employment needs. The findings will help close the gaps and to guide policy, achieving more relevant training and higher skills.
The recent downturn in Europe's air transportation sector is expected to be a temporary blip in an otherwise general upward growth trend going back decades. While the industry faces many real and unsolved physical constraints to further growth, many believe that solutions will depend foremost on adequate human resources.
The EU-funded 'Assessing the educational gaps in aeronautics and air transport' (http://www.educair.eu (EDUCAIR)) project aimed to match training supply to the industry's personnel demand. Further goals of the five-member group included identifying factors of attraction and repulsion to the industry, and forecasting the aviation employment profile for 2020. The project also reviewed the EU's current aviation-related educational offerings. EDUCAIR operated for 18 months to July 2013.
Analysis of attraction, based on an online survey for stakeholders, revealed three key factors: fascination, challenge and employment benefits. The survey found repulsive factors to include excessive regulation, too much theory without connection to practice and insufficient practical working time. The student-supplied information was similar except for the first item, but included the difficulty and length of the programme.
A set of seven skills were identified, with problem solving being rated highest and theoretical background lowest. Otherwise, no clear patterns were obvious, though the relevance of all skills to an aviation career is widely recognised.
The students' competence assessment showed a wide gap in all educational backgrounds; similarly, the employees' assessment showed a gap in about half the criteria. Neither issue is of concern. However, the worrisome gaps are those emerging from high-relevance but low-frequency teaching, as they show misalignment between educational curricula and company needs. That situation may lead to incompletely competent graduates. The project proposed information exchange between schools and employers.
Given the scarcity of data on aviation employment and training, the project recommended the establishment of a European observatory to monitor the issues.
As a result of EDUCAIR's work, the gaps between training and employment in aviation are clearer. The information can help guide research and policy, also to improve the relevance and quality of aviation training, which will improve aviation services.