Intl aviation organisation to help boost SA aviation skills

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pretoria - Government and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) have agreed to develop a training plan to address the skills shortage in South Africa's aviation industry.

This comes after Transport Minister, Sibusiso Ndebele and President of ICAO Roberto Kobeh Gonzalez met in Pretoria on Thursday. 

The two signed a Memorandum of Understanding, agreeing to develop and implement a training plan, which includes providing training, assisting in mobilising resources for training and ensuring that the training provided augments South Africa's capabilities in building skills in aviations disciplines which are conducive to the safety, security and development.

According to the Department of Transport, the training plan is a welcome boost in addressing the skills shortage in the aviation industry.

"There is currently a world-wide skills shortage in the aviation industry and this partnership will add to several other initiatives being implemented to increase the number of skilled personnel in the industry in South Africa," said Mr Ndebele.

He said the safety, security, efficiency and regularity of air navigation and harmonious progress of international civil aviation relied on the continuous training of aviation personnel. "Therefore, assistance and cooperation in the field of specialized aviation training is of paramount importance."

The minister urged more young people to pursue careers in aviation.

"We want South Africa to have a very good share in the training of the 120 000 pilots globally by ICAO. This opportunity will introduce new entrants to the industry, especially those from historically disadvantaged communities," he said. 

Mr Gonzalez said safety was a number one priority in ICAO and therefore training pilots could not be underestimated. "We cannot talk about safety in this industry without emphasising the importance of training."

However, he said South Africa had a reputation of training good pilots because of its well-developed aviation training centres in the world.

Mr Gonzalez said although South Africa might be facing a skills shortage, the major developments at the country's airports was a clear indication that it is ready to host thousands of international visitors during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

"I am confident that the technical proceedings and the flow of passengers at the airports will not be a problem," he said, adding that he had been impressed by the major changes in the last four years.