Research Projects

Talent Acquisition Methods that Promote Sustainability of the Workforce Pipeline

The purpose of this research is to support the airport industry in building a pipeline of talent that will result in skilled, long-tenured airport employees. This will be accomplished through a focus on recruitment and hiring practices that improve awareness of the industry, increase the number of interested and qualified applicants, and focus on increasing diversity and inclusion within the workforce pipeline.

Background (Describe the current situation or problem in the industry, and how your idea would address it.)

There is significant anticipation over demographic changes in the workforce and the impact these changes will have on airports. Specifically, there is concern regarding the retirement rate and the subsequent loss of institutional knowledge and required employee skillsets. With the retirement of the Baby Boomer generation, there will be increased pressure to ensure there is sufficient hiring of qualified individuals. This hiring will bring in individuals from younger generations, which may change the needs of the workforce. The industry needs to invest in workplace strategies to keep pace with the changing workforce and make the airport industry a sought after industry for younger job-seekers. This includes understanding the benefits that today's workforce is attracted to and benefits that will encourage people to join, and remain in, airport jobs. Along with a focus on younger job seekers, there is also a need to better understand the needs of a diverse workforce and identify workforce development and recruitment strategies that will improve diversity and inclusion in the workforce and address underrepresentation of varied backgrounds in the airport workforce.

A challenge in building the workforce pipeline for airports is that there is a general lack of public awareness of airport careers, and particularly about specialized occupations. In general, outreach programs do not seem to be encouraging the required number of students to enter into airport-related careers. Marketing budgets for these positions or programs are often small; however, beyond budgets, the industry needs new marketing practices. Research is needed to investigate ways to most efficiently promote awareness of airport careers in schools and communities. This would contribute to increased participation in airport career training and development degrees or certificate programs. Finding ways to attract and attain new talent will set the airport industry up to be successful in the long-term.

ACRP's Oversight Committee has identified attracting employees to the industry as a key emerging issue. This research will incorporate a variety of topics related to this emerging issue, including focusing on branding and awareness of airport occupations, creating partnerships to recruit, identifying benefits and attracting employees to civil service jobs, improving the hiring process and related tools, and identifying strategies to improve diversity and inclusion in the workforce.

Objective (What is the desired product or result that will help the airport industry?)

The objective of this research is to provide guidance and best practices regarding how to attract talent in a way that encourages a long-term pipeline of employees for airports. The main outcome of the project will be a user-friendly Guidebook or toolkit that provides strategies airports can use to Attract talent and broaden and expand the talent pipeline, brining in future employees that fit well with the industry and will maintain a long tenure there.

Approach (Describe in general terms the steps you think are needed to achieve the objective.)

Phase 1: Develop an Understanding of Current Best Practices in Attracting New Employees and Airport Specific Strategies. The first step of this phase will be to conduct a literature review related to workforce development strategies that will improve awareness and interest in airport jobs. This review will focus on understanding airport needs related to the talent pipeline and will include a review of best practices and innovative workforce programs that have been used by organizations across industries to attract high quality talent. Additionally, it should include a focus on how airports can work to improve diversity and inclusion as part of attracting new employees to the industry. In addition to the literature review, data collection from airport employees should also be used to clarify elements of their jobs and workplace that should be highlighted or included to better attract new employees to airport jobs.

Phase 2: Validate Needs with Airport Experts and Identify Successful Strategies for Sustaining a Talent Pipeline. The objective of Phase 2 will be to build on the Phase 1 results by collecting additional qualitative data from stakeholders. This will involve conducting interviews with airport professionals who are knowledgeable about the employee experience and current talent needs. For example, Human Resources representatives may be able to discuss issues that they have experienced in terms of reasons applicants choose not to work in airports or other leaders may be able to speak to challenges in recruiting. Additionally, data will be gathered from airport representatives who have successfully implemented strategies that have a positive impact on the talent pipeline, as well as experts outside of the airport industry who can provide best practice solutions. Through this process, more detailed information regarding attracting applicants, building interest in airport jobs, increasing diversity in the workforce pipeline, and other topics related to best approach attracting talent to airports will be identified.

Phase 3: Create a Toolkit for Building a Strong Workforce Pipeline. Based on the research described in Phases 1 and 2, and an Airport Workforce Pipeline Development Guidebook will be created. The Guidebook will include background information on the importance and benefits of building a pipeline that highlights efforts to increase diversity and create a long-lasting cadre of airport staff. It will also include tools that airports can easily implement to focus on developing the talent pipeline that they need to bring in employees and ultimately bring important airport outcomes such as improved performance, better recruitment of new employees, and the ability to hire and retain long-term airport employees.

Cost Estimate and Backup (Provide a cost estimate and support for how you arrived at the estimate.)

The estimated funding for this proposed effort is $400,000. The estimated time needed to complete this research is 20 months, including 3 months for review and revision of a draft final report. These estimates are based on the complexity of information to be gathered as well as the high level of detail that will be expected in the final products.

Related Research - List related ACRP and other industry research; describe gaps (see link to Research Roadmaps above), and describe how your idea would address these gaps. This is a critical element of a synthesis topic submission.

This research need was identified in the ACRP Administration and HR Roadmap, within the Talent Acquisition and Management Theme, as an important topic for future research.

Additional related research includes:

• Airport Cooperative Research Program. (2016). Identifying and Evaluating Airport Workforce Requirements (Web-Only Document 28). http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/acrp/acrp_webdoc_028.pdf

• International Air Transport Association. (2018). Future of the Airline Industry 2035. https://www.iata.org/en/policy/future-of-airlines-2035/

• Harl, T. (2014). The perfect storm of aviation workforce issues. AviationPros. Retrieved from https://www.aviationpros.com/aircraft/maintenance-providers/mro/article/11505632/the-perfect-storm-of-aviation-workforce-issues

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Idea No. 724