The Aviation sector in India is on the road to bouncing back to pre-COVID levels, after being massively hit by the unprecedented pandemic. The aviation and aerospace sector is currently offering numerous opportunities beyond conventional ones and its sub-sector related to Drones is fast growing and is the new sunrise sector.
The aviation and aerospace domain, especially the drone sector, has huge potential for growth and wide applications in the current times and in the near future. It offers jobs not just to graduates and engineers but also for anyone skilled and with basic 10th class qualification.
To understand and learn more about the scope of expansion, skill requirements, emerging job roles, and opportunities in the drone and aviation sectors, we conversed with Wing Commander Rachit Bhatnagar, CEO, of the Aerospace and Aviation Sector Skill Council (AASSC).
Here are some highlights from our conversation. You can watch the full video of the conversation on our YouTube channel, for which the link is given below.
Q: How is the aviation sector bouncing back after being severely affected by the pandemic?
A: The aviation industry was badly hit by the pandemic. With high operation costs, the past two years were testing times for the sector. However, with international flights opening up, they started bouncing back and most businesses are on their growth path again. New airlines like Akasa Air and Jet Airways 2.0 are coming up.
Air India has been taken over back by the Tatas and they are planning to bring all the airlines they control under one umbrella. With NMP (National Monetisation Plan) privatizing airports and bringing airports in big cities and two-tier cities like Bangalore, Delhi, and Lucknow, under PPP (public-private partnership) model, the sector is bound to witness huge growth.
In the aerospace sector, according to the defence offset clause, not only the aircraft components should be manufactured in India, but also the skilled manpower should be made available within the country. This opens up many opportunities for skilled personnel interested in the sector.
Q: What are some of the emerging job roles in aviation and its sub-sectors? What are its skill requirements?
A: Over the years, we’ve seen more traction in the airline job roles, airport sub-sector, MRO (Maintenance, Repairs, and Overhauls) sub-sector, the design and development sub-sector, aeroplane manufacturing, etc.
Many jobs in the airline sector, like airline reservation agents and airline customer service executives, are always in demand. Some of the jobs like airline X-ray technicians are multi-skilled; they can be deployed even outside the airports at hospitals, resorts, residential complexes, shopping malls, or any place that requires scanning of baggage for higher security.
The National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) alignment and the National Council of Vocational Education and Training (NCVET) have identified many more multi-skilled job roles like airport cargo handling, push back operator, airport professional, airport associate manager, and airport executive who can be deployed in several places as the trained resources can be employed in many jobs.
Aviation is a glamorous domain and has always attracted women. Many women have worked as air hostesses. Even in airports and in other aerospace companies, efforts are being made to employ more women. In the design and development sector, and the drone subsector the gender gap is being narrowed. Apart from ladies, transgenders are also now being trained and employed as pilots and operators.
Q: How are we preparing the future workforce for MRO as it is one of the growing sub-sectors with the help of training partners?
A: MRO is well regulated and governed by Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) Rules. People employed in MRO Jobs should be DGCA Certified. Along with the certification, digitized courses are being offered to help aspirants learn the skills required to work in the MRO sector.
With the government reducing GST and excise taxes on imported aircraft components, the MRO subsector is witnessing huge growth and many new MRO companies are now coming up.
With digitalization and new technology-enabled platforms, training is now being offered digitally also. The sector skill council is working with various companies to offer courses using AR/VR (Augmented Reality / Virtual Reality) and immersive technologies to fill the skill gaps.
Q: What are some of the courses available in the drone sector? How are these courses promoting multi-skilling among the trainees?
A: Drone Sector is opening a lot of avenues in many industries. Recently, the QP (Qualification Pack) to meet NOS (National Occupational Standards) for “Drone Operator – Multi-Rotor” has been approved by the NCVET. The AASSC is collaborating with other sector skill councils like agriculture, automobile, electronics, capital goods, telecom, etc. to add NOS related to the respective sectors to the base QP. So, wholesome application-oriented drone training can be given at any centre.
A person trained in one sector can be employed in other sectors too. A drone pilot should also be multi-skilled. With drones being much smaller than an aeroplane, many people are not needed to assemble or repair a single drone. Any trained pilot should have the required knowledge to assemble, disassemble, troubleshoot, and fix minor faults. He/she should also have relevant sector knowledge and use information gathered by drones. They should be able to analyse and interpret data collected by drones.
Q: How is AASSC promoting aviation and drone skills among students in schools and colleges?
A: Many discussions are going on to promote mass-inclusive growth of the drone industry. The AASSC is working closely with PSSCIVE, an NCERT Body, to introduce drones to students from 6th to 8th classes. As per the new NEP (National Education Policy), the students should work in tinkering labs at school for at least 10 bag-less school days. The students can be trained in assembling, disassembling, and even coding software for drones. They can also be taught to fly (in a closed flight envelope) nano and micro drones that do not require a flying license.
The students in classes 9 to 12 will be encouraged to take more courses aligned with NSQF (National Skills Qualification Framework) level 3 or 4 from various sector skill councils that add to their credits when they pass class 12. Many other SSCs are introducing similar courses to integrate skilling into the regular education system.
For college students, the KARMA (Kaushal Augmentation and Restructuring Mission of AICTE) scheme enables using the unutilized infrastructure of schools and colleges to train college dropouts in various skills.
The AASSC is making students aware of the need for skills and helps acquire them at both school and college levels.
Many colleges are working closely with industries to offer apprenticeship programs to degree students. The degree courses offer an optional job role curriculum integrated into the three-year degree course where the students are required to complete a graded NSQL level. Under the NAPS (National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme), these students can complete, along with their degree course, an apprenticeship certified by Skill India related to an industry. The model will be replicated in various sectors including the aviation and aerospace sector.
Q: With technological advancements in skill training, how is AASSC moving towards digitalization of skill training?
A: The aviation and aerospace sector requires high capital funding since the equipment and the training centre establishment and maintenance are quite costly. Training pilots and drone pilots is a costly affair. Any application-oriented drone, even a small one, carrying a 2-25 kg payload costs more than 6-8 lakhs.
Hence, aviation training is divided into about three parts –
- The first part consists of theoretical learning modules and assessments that students can take on their own on a platform that is AI monitored.
- The second is an instructor-led module to clear students’ doubts.
- The third part leverages technologies like AR/VR to create a virtual training infrastructure on the metaverse. Each person can own a digital avatar and complete certifications in the virtual training platform.
Only those aspirants who finished training in the virtual platforms can then take hand-on training or OJT (on-the-job training) on physical platforms.
Also Read: Airbus partners with Tata STRIVE and AASSC to train youth for aviation jobs https://www.nationalskillsnetwork.in/airbus-partners-with-tata-strive-and-aassc-to-train-youth-for-aviation-jobs/
Q: How can we make the aviation and drone sector skills aspirational and what are the future prospects for the students who take up these skills?
A: The Aviation and Aerospace sector is very aspirational. People with skills related to the sector can appear for the future World Skills competitions, popularly known as the Olympics of Skills. Though the sector’s job roles are not included in the coming WorldSkills Competitions to be held in October in Shanghai, plans are being made to enable participation in the future.
The unmanned aerial vehicle sector has wide applications in various industries as showcased during the Bharat Drone Mahotsav. Many prototypes are already being tested to use drones in innovative ways. In the future, we may see drones delivering goods, surveying, and even transporting humans. For innovations in the sector, the Sky is the limit!