MONTREAL -- The global aviation sector has to do a better job attracting the huge number of workers that will be required in the coming decades to meet growing demand, the head of the United Nations' aviation agency said Monday.
Fang Liu, secretary general of the International Civil Aviation Organization, told a global summit being held in Montreal that an expected doubling in the number of passengers, retirements and competition for high-skilled workers from other industries will strain hiring efforts.
"Promoting excitement and passion for aviation is not enough," she said in prepared speech remarks.
"We also need to facilitate access to aviation training and education programs which lead to dependable recruitment opportunities and shorter-term career advancement returns."
ICAO recently updated forecasts that identify increased demand for pilots, air traffic controllers and aircraft technicians.
It says 620,000 pilots alone will be needed by 2036 to fly aircraft with at least 100 seats and some 80 per cent of these future aviators aren't even flying today.
That means hiring almost 492,000 new pilots or 67 per day for the next 20 years.
There will also be the need for 94,000 new air traffic controllers through 2036 and 1.3 million maintenance professionals.
However, Liu said attracting aviation workers is aggravated by the growing high-tech careers in other industries.
For example, she said Montreal's growing global leadership in gaming and artificial intelligence may threaten the sustainability of the region as the world's third-largest aerospace manufacturing hub.
"The world over, similar dynamics have forced us all to recognize that aviation has to do a much better job of both attracting and retaining the skilled workers and managers it requires," Liu said.
Global aviation is a catalyst for economic development, she said. It supports 63.5 million jobs and contributes more than US$2.7 trillion annually to the global gross domestic product.
Some 10 million passengers are currently carried daily on more than 100,000 flights but that number is expected to double in the next 15 years as emerging markets, especially in Asia, increase the number of flights.
"At the same time as our sector is growing, its workforce is also shrinking due to the inevitable demographics of aging populations, lowering birth rates and other attrition factors," she added.
Liu said the best young minds are needed and that greater awareness about aviation needs to be instilled earlier by appealing to high school students including young girls, in addition to university level efforts.
She also said a movement of aviation workers between countries and aviation employers needs to be supported to ensure all areas of the world have sustainable services.
Bombardier Inc. (BBDb.TO) says it's hiring about 1,000 workers over the next 18 months to complete the interiors of the Global 7000 which is scheduled to enter into service late next year.
Aero Montreal, which promotes the city's aerospace industry, says 31,681 positions will need to be filled within the next 10 years including 8,816 newly created positions and 22,865 positions resulting mainly from retirements.