Learning & Development

Airline Pilots Demonstrate Career and Skill Flexibility

One of the biggest challenges in a changing economy is the issue of displaced workers. Even when an economy as a whole is growing, as some sectors replace others, some workers whose skills were once highly valued often feel left out of the new normal.


These workers are often left to take a lower-paying job that utilizes less valuable skills or to reskill entirely. This also can happen on a micro level within organizations. Companies that pivot to a new market or adapt to new technology may find they have a pool of highly skilled (and expensive) workers whose primary skills are no longer essential to the business.

Demand for Pilots on the Decline

Whether at the level of an individual business or an entire economy, changes in demand for skills and knowledge should call for refocused training. We often think about these scenarios in the context of advances in technology or global trade. But as we have seen firsthand in 2020, global pandemics can also contribute to economic disruptions.

A great example, discussed by Jackie Wattles in an article for CNN Business, is the airline industry. Between fear of exposure to COVID-19 among potential passengers and international and even intranational travel restrictions, demand for airline travel has plummeted, leaving many pilots anxious about their job security.

“With mass layoffs at US air carriers expected this fall, airline pilots like MichelleBishop are anticipating the unwelcome reality that pilots like herself may soon be left without stable work,” writes Wattles.

How Pilots Are Reskilling

Wattles writes that many pilots like Bishop are looking at acquiring certification to operate drones for companies like Aquilline Drones, “a Connecticut-based startup, [which] wants to create a gig economy for drone operators, pledging to roll out a simple smartphone app about two months from nowthat allows anyone with a license to take on short-term jobs, from capturing aerial footage at a wedding to snapping pictures of bridges and roadways for a public works department.”

Aquilline offers a training program to help would-be operators get certified, and so far, pilots make up well over half of the 3,500 people who have signed up.

As economies change—whether from advances in technology, changes in global trade patterns, and even pandemics—in-demand skills will change, as well, even though the workers comprising the workforce will change much more slowly.

As a result, it’s essential for industries, companies, and individual workers to be ready, willing, and able to learn new skills for the benefit of all involved.

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