Amidst the turbulences of the pandemic and ongoing staff shortages, one issue that remains critical for ensuring safety and standards within aviation and air cargo logistics, is keeping staff trained and certified. Airport College, established 8 years ago, offers a broad spectrum of online self-study courses to the industry. CargoForwarder Global (CFG) spoke to Pertti Mero, CEO of Airport College (AC), to learn whether training has been impacted by the pandemic.
CFG: Can you outline for our readers what the Airport College offers and where, these days, please?
AC: We currently have offices in Bangkok, Dubai, Helsinki, Manila, Seoul, Singapore, and Tokyo. Our services are represented through our partner network in 20+ countries throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. Airport College provides a comprehensive portfolio of online training courses designed to cover aviation safety, security, and service topics. The course duration varies between 1 to 3 hours, with the key objective of keeping the operational workforce competent. To ensure regulatory compliance, the course contents are based on international training standards established by governing bodies such as the ICAO, FAA, EASA, and IATA.
Today we offer various language versions including English, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Swedish, Spanish, Thai, and Finnish.
CFG: The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digitalization. Does this hold true for training, too? How has Airport College experienced the past almost 2 years?
AC: Yes, we have certainly seen steady growth in the use of eLearning especially in Ground Handling including cargo terminal side too.
CFG: A recent IATA press release (https://www.iata.org/en/pressroom/2021-releases/2021-11-16-01/) talks of severe shortages of ground handling staff, and urges companies to prepare for the increasing aviation ramp-up. Are you seeing this in the Airport College? Do you feel airlines / handlers are spending more or less on staff training these days, compared to pre-pandemic?
AC: There was already a shortage of workforce before the pandemic, and this burden continues. People coming and going is also part of new normal, since the trend is no longer to work for the same company forever. Training is mandatory and online training works well for quickly training new people and at the same keep “old” workforce up-to-date and competent/compliant. We do see that the need to keep people competent is out there.
CFG: IATA recently released a Lithium Battery CEIV - has the Airport College created lithium battery specific courses? And how does it seek out customers for this course?
AC: Yes, we created a “lithium battery fires in aircraft cabin” course, which is used by airlines and ground handlers. We have extensive DG expertise inhouse as some of our employees are IATA certified instructors, and we regularly discuss requirements with our clients and sales network.
CFG: Are the free Covid courses still on offer, or are they no longer required?
AC: COVID-19 courses are available, but no longer free-of-charge. The price is a nominal 10 euro/participant. A great number of participants from more than 140 countries around the world have already completed these courses.
CFG: Are Virtual Reality courses on the rise? Will all courses eventually be VR? What are the benefits and Airport College's learnings with VR?
AC: VR certainly has a place in our training portfolio. It works for well for some training topics like ULD inspection, A/C Walkaround Check, and Belt Loader Driver Training, to mention a few. Virtual Reality give trainees a feeling of physically being there. Accessing real aviation equipment, such as aircraft, ground support equipment, and ULD in hands-on training is often costly and sometimes difficult to arrange. In Virtual Reality, trainees can practice skills in a safe and realistic environment. Also, some of the drills may consist of situations or incidents which are not possible to practice in real life.
CFG: What new courses are on the horizon?
AC: Air Cargo Basics will be launched mid-December, aimed at supporting airlines and handlers in onboarding new staff, and we will be updating our courses according to new 2022 IATA Manuals.
CFG: Is Airport College looking for trainers?
AC: No. We currently have enough expert inhouse trainers for all the subjects covered by our courses, and those training courses are audited both by our clients as well as civil aviation authorities.
CFG: What is Airport College’s motto or vision for 2022?
AC: Our vision and hope is that companies encourage the operational staff to use our online self-study training courses to regularly update their skills and acquire required competences. Now is the best time to start planning the training agenda for the new year, as we recently pointed out in our newsletter.
CFG: Thank you, Pertti Mero, for your insights.
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