Recruitment is one of my biggest challenges. Growing as fast as we are at PrivateFly, we need to find ways to bring in new young talent who maintain the quality of the excellent team we already have in place. It’s not easy. This is an issue in our wider industry too. Last week, we published a whitepaper based on our recent survey of pilots across the aviation spectrum. This revealed that 53 per cent think a shortage of qualified flight crew is the biggest challenge facing the aviation industry in the next five years. Here at PrivateFly, we aren’t looking for pilots specifically – we link our clients with a network of accredited aircraft operators, so we don’t hire crew ourselves. But many of our team have undertaken flight training, as we do require an aviation background for many client-facing roles. And for any role here – whether it’s in sales, tech, marketing or finance – a love of flying is a must. We are all proud to describe ourselves as AvGeeks. What we do know about aviation is that it tends to get a hold on you from an early age. I vividly remember the excitement of airline flights as a boy, which turned into joining the Edinburgh University Air Squadron a few years’ later, and then a 20-year career as a pilot, before launching PrivateFly. Our pilot survey shows this is typical, with 76 per cent saying they have wanted to fly since childhood. So in addition to recruiting experienced talent, from the very start of PrivateFly, I’ve felt strongly about hiring ambitious young talent who are passionate about aviation. We’ve had some great success stories with internships and hiring graduates with aviation and aerospace degrees. It takes time to build their skills and experience, but with our existing team acting as mentors, training and shaping bright young people seems to work very well for us. We’re now starting to work more closely with a number of UK universities that offer aviation-related degree courses, including Coventry, London Met and the University of Hertfordshire. This includes establishing links with lecturers and student ambassadors, so we can start to build a pipeline of future talent. Some have stayed with us, and are going from strength to strength. Others have moved on to pilot training or into other aviation roles. I’ve watched them go with a lot of pride – it’s great to know we’ve helped someone take off on their aviation career path. Starting younger, we’ve established links with local schools and with the local St Albans Squadron Air Training Corps for teenagers, aged 12-19. Next week I’m presenting to them about careers in aviation, and offering them greater exposure to business aviation in particular. And it’s never too young to start. Tonight I’m off to visit a local Beaver Scouts group and, in addition to running a paper aeroplane competition, I’ll be sowing the seeds of aviation passion in these 6-9 year-olds. You never know, some of them might be the next generation of young talent here at PrivateFly!
This article is part of a wider campaign called Founders Diaries, a section of Real Business that brings together 20 inspiring business builders to share their stories. Bringing together companies from a wide variety of sectors and geographies, each columnist produces a diary entry each month. Visit the Founders Diaries section to find out more.
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