By Alexandra Rowbottom, Director at Foundation Recruitment
The airport market is extremely buoyant – we’ve seen developments, expansions, improved destination routes and a massive increase in footfall. The progressions in the sector have created a rising number of job vacancies which require a diverse and further advanced skill set.
As specialist recruiters in the airport management sector, we have witnessed the steep increase in demand for talent, and what’s been interesting is the different backgrounds and experience sought after for these vacancies. Over the last six months, we have attended numerous conferences across Europe and the same two talent challenges have been raised:
- Diversity: creating a diverse and inclusive workforce is a challenge the airport industry is faced with.
Only 27% of the airport professionals on our database are female, clearly demonstrating the need for more women in the industry. However, we are thrilled to share that 50% of the candidates we have successfully placed in non-aviation roles YTD have been women – a more encouraging statistic.
What does this mean?
It is great to see female representation rising with new vacancies along with senior positions being filled by women 50% of the time. The increasing number of women in senior positions is raising awareness of females in the industry, giving women more confidence to strive for progression and encouraging leaders to reflect on the gender balance of their talent pipeline.
Diversity delivers new perspectives, a wider range of skills, improves staff retention and ultimately advances the level of talent within a business. If the equal gender recruitment balance we have witnessed so far this year continues, the future workforce will be much more balanced.
- Every role requires customer service skills.
As the experiential aspect of airports continues to develop, the demand for customer service talent will only increase. Irrespective of job role or department, the objective of improving the passenger experience is at the forefront. If the role involves an interaction with consumers – notwithstanding qualifications and ability to fulfil tasks – candidates need communication and service skills to be successful.
To evidence the necessity of this, 100% of the roles we have placed YTD have been candidates with extensive experience in customer service. Due to this growing requirement, airport management recruitment is becoming much more challenging as the talent pool with the growing skill-set desired (and ultimately needed) is shrinking.
As we specialise within the shopping centre management, venue management and placemaking markets in addition to airports, we are witnessing the transferable skills across each. The transferable skills along with the shrinking talent pool has resulted in airports recruiting individuals from different backgrounds such as retail and hospitality, and candidates considering changing sector to vary and diversify their career.
Sourcing a diverse, customer-centric and qualified candidate base has never been more essential in growing and driving an airport forward. As the passenger experience continues to be the centre of developments and the importance of employee diversity grows, we will see recruitment methods change, skill-sets desired grow and backgrounds of professionals become much more extensive to drive the commercial revenue forward.