The aviation activity in South Africa contributes directly and indirectly about 3.1% annually to the country’s economy, but analysts believe the sector can bring more than that it can overcome a number of challenges currently affecting it.
One of these major challenges is the skills shortage, which is said to be a serious obstacle, both in short and long term aspects.
Like elsewhere in Africa, the aviation sector in South Africa is suffering from a lack of adequately trained pilots and other technocial staff.
The South African government, which is also mindful of the scarcity of black skilled staff in this sector, announced recently that it will invest R52.4 million (about US$5.2 million) to embark on what it called a robust scarce and critical aviation skills development programmes.
The programmes will take place under the banner and supervision of government-controlled aviation agencies ACAA, Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) and Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA).
Transport minister Ben Dikobe Martins said : «Our aviation agencies in conjunction with the Department of Transport and relevant stakeholders are currently developing an all-inclusive Civil Aviation Transformation Strategy.
“This is is the first in the country aimed at addressing transformation issues which currently records a devastating figure of about 4% pilot licence holders being from previously disadvantaged individuals (PDIs).”
PDIs is the word used in South Africa to categorise black people.
The South African government, has through its Department of Trade and Industry (dti), launched ‘Aerospace Industry Support Initiative’ (AISI), a project aimed at improving the aerospace in terms of quality and skills levels of the workforce.
Furthermore, the transport ministry, through the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA), entered into an agreement with the University of Pretoria to facilitate the training of students in aerospace medicine.
The aim, according to the minister, is to further address the challenge of attraction and retention of skills in the aviation industry.