Aviation Minister, Mrs Fidelia Njeze
Experts in the aviation industry have canvassed the establishment of a Marshal Plan to guide activities towards overcoming the problem of inadequate manpower in the sector, lamenting that lack of indigenous aviation personnel would retard the growth of the sector.
The experts also said that it is only through the Marshal Plan that Nigeria could attain its target of using air transport as the catalyst to drive the attainment of the economic vision of the government christened Vision 20:2020.
This position was proffered at a one day conference organised by the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), in Lagos, with the theme, ‘Human Capital Development and Succession Plan in the Aviation Industry’.
The Commissioner of Bureau, Dr Sam Oduselu, explained that human factor in air accidents remained critical because it was one of the causative factors in many air disaster, observing that there was need to have adequate number of personnel needed so that they could work according to standard to avoid stress and lack of concentration which could cause accidents.
Oduselu remarked that there must be a provision made to train and ensure manpower development because if ageing workforce is not replaced, one of the side effects is that the ageing workforce would be gullible to errors and therefore become threat to safety.
Taking similar position with Oduselu, the Head of Service of the Federation, Professor Oladapo Afolabi, explained that due to myriad of factors the aviation industry has had its twists and turns over the years, leading to unfortunate incidents and accidents that have questioned the integrity of the sector in terms of the safety of the airspace as well as the airworthiness of most of the aircraft operating in Nigeria.
He noted that if Nigeria desires to be counted among the top 20 economies in the world by 2020, as articulated in the vision 20.20.20, the goal might be difficult to achieve without harnessing the potential, talents, energies, drive of the work force in the sector.
"It is by doing this that we can be rest assured of putting in place a world class aviation sector by 2020 and reaping the benefits including securing more favourable ratings in all global indices. We need to device a human resource policy architecture and plan for the aviation sector which will address the yawning generation gap in human resources within the industry with a view to proposing innovative strategies for dealing current and future challenges.”
Head of Service added that capacity building was crucial which must be undertaken at all levels. “We need also to recognise the crucial importance of building a critical mass of world class professionals in the aviation sector."
In a keynote address, the Minister of Aviation Mrs. Fidelia Njeze explained that the workshop could not have come at a better time than now, when the industry is finding solutions to the human capital challenges facing the aviation sector.
Njeze explained that the aviation sector was currently saddled with the several operational challenges like poor infrastructure, under capitalisation, credit worthiness of operators, negative effects of global recession, ageing and depleting work force. She said that this has resulted from two decades of policy neglect, and poor implementation of set targets that has ultimately taken its toll on the orderly succession of exiting personnel in the industry.
"Compounding the lingering issue of ageing work force and human capital shortage is the ongoing brain drain that keeps depleting the pool of aviation human resources even in the face of inadequate replacement process. So we have a situation where what is not enough is being poached by emerging economies in the Gulf and the Far East.”
She further explained that it was for this reason that government was upgrading the required safety critical equipment that was being provided as one of the ways to adequately address the development of human capacity.