New Zealand aviation employers should focus more on training and retaining a skilled, stable workforce – rather than trying to recruit pilots from overseas in a kneejerk response to demand, according to NZALPA’s international affairs - IFALPA - Director Tim Robinson.
Employers who meet Immigration New Zealand criteria can apply to become an accredited employer – bypassing the need to look for staff in New Zealand before hiring from overseas.
When an aviation employer applies for accreditation status to employ overseas pilots, Immigration New Zealand seeks NZALPA’s views on whether the accreditation is justified.
Already this year NZALPA has opposed applications from two aviation employers wanting to be able to fast track international recruitment of pilots. Neither of these applications was successful.
“We believe aviation companies, and the industry as a whole, would be much better off focusing their efforts on investment in New Zealand pilots, rather than adopting the short term strategy of international recruitment,” Tim says.
He says this might only require small changes to recruitment policies, for example giving greater consideration to pilots with the necessary qualifications but who fall a little short on the employer’s required flying hours. “It would make more sense to invest in helping those pilots to get the experience they need.
“Providing transparent and structured career pathways within the various airline groups is another way employers can attract New Zealand’s best pilot talent and better retain them as they gain the experience and qualifications needed to fill aircraft command positions”.
“We are in danger of losing New Zealand pilots, many of whom look for flying jobs overseas because they can’t get what they need in this country. These are pilots who are keenly aware and experienced in New Zealand’s unique geography and climatic conditions, critical for our safety led industry.”
Better pay and conditions available overseas often means New Zealand pilots who are forced overseas by the lack of employment opportunities here, find it difficult or impossible to return to New Zealand.
“We are concerned about newly qualified pilots who are choosing not to stay in flight instructor and General Aviation jobs due to poorer conditions of employment, lower wages and poor job satisfaction, substandard and stressful working conditions (all comments from NZALPA’s Professional Pilot Career Progression report). These General Aviation and training roles are where so many of our new pilots should be getting their early experience and they are vital to the sustainability of the aviation industry in New Zealand.
“At the other end of the spectrum are experienced captains who want to return home to New Zealand but are discouraged from doing so by the lesser pay and employment conditions (hours of work etc.) available here”.
“We need to retain and develop our less experienced pilots and provide better pay and conditions for experienced pilots who wish to stay or return to fly in New Zealand.
“NZALPA will continue to actively oppose applications for accreditation until this situation is addressed with the long term needs of the industry in mind,” says Robinson. “Short term solutions such as the recruitment of foreign pilots, will not correct the long-term issue of pilot supply.”
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