Aviation industry dragged down by human resources shortage

By Vien Thong   August 15, 2023 | 09:00 pm PT
Aviation industry dragged down by human resources shortage
Aircraft at Tan Son Nhat Airport in HCMC in April 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
Vietnam’s growing aviation market, with large infrastructure projects being developed, is facing a shortage of human resources as training fails to meet recruitment demand.

A severe shortage is plaguing the aviation industry post-Covid, as its 44,000 workers, divided into three main areas of operations, transportation and flights, are not enough for further development needs, Tran Thi Thai Binh, head of the aviation economic department at the Vietnam Aviation Academy, said at a recent forum in HCMC.

Recruitment demand will rise from now until 2030 as Long Thanh International Airport is being built and Tan Son Nhat International Airport and Noi Bai International Airport are set to be upgraded.

By 2030 Vietnam will have 30 civilian airports, up from the current 22. Construction of Tan Son Nhat’s third terminal began at the end of last year while work on Long Thanh is set to start this year.

Long Thanh, in Dong Nai Province, will require many personnel. Experts have estimated that the number of engineers it needs might be double or triple the 100 Vietnam Airlines hires annually.

With the number of passengers increasing by nearly 30% year-on-year in the first half of this year, aviation staff size is not meeting demand, Bui Song Thu, head of the Institute for Human Resources Training and Development, said.

She added that shortages of air traffic controllers, aircraft engineers, maintenance workers, and pilots are expected.

Luong Thi Xuan, CEO of the Vietnam Aviation Exhibition Jsc, said: "Overloaded airports are seeing shortages in high-skilled jobs such as pilots and aircraft engineers."

A report by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in 2019 said the number of air passengers in Vietnam could either double or quadruple from 2018 to 100.7 million or 205.2 million by 2038.

This means that the number of aviation workers will also have to double or quadruple in the period.

Vietnam’s current training capability is able to address only a fraction of this demand.

Its leading aviation training facility, the Vietnam Aviation Academy, had only 119 students in the air traffic control department and 106 in aviation technology in the 2022-2023 school year.

The Viet Flight Training, which trains pilots, churns out around 100 annually.

Ta Minh Trong, head of the flight safety department at the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam, said workers in the industry can earn VND15-20 million ($626-834) a month at the basic level and this would go up to VND50 million or higher once they obtain certain certificates.

But the long training time, high training costs and the work pressure in the industry discourage young people from choosing aviation for a career, he added.

Deputy head of the Vietnam Aviation Academy, Ha Nam Khanh Giao, said training facilities should partner with foreign universities and academies to send their students overseas.

John Ling, president of Canadian Aviation College, supported Giao’s idea, saying there are many opportunities for young Vietnamese who are willing to learn if partnerships are established with other countries.

Vietnam Aviation Exhibition is working on setting up partnerships with 10 countries in, including the U.K., Canada, Australia, and the U.S.

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