COVID-19 Blog 4: Third Level Education

Our last Airline Pilot Club COVID-19 Blog instalment focused on EASA & the Industry. Today, I thought we should focus on an important but easily overlooked aspect of the aviation industry – University students. These are students who are in third level education and who will eventually graduate into our industry. It is easy to overlook them. They are the future leadership in the industry and we should listen to the voice of this community.

The Airline Pilot Club spoke to lecturers and students of Dublin City University to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on their classes, degrees and jobs. Below are short contributions from Dublin City University Business School and the Irish Aviation Student Association (IASA).

DCU provides a range of under-graduate and post-graduate courses in aviation management. It has been very successful in producing aviation managers, Airline Pilots and Air Traffic Controllers. 

IASA is a very active and effective Association of aviation management students. It has created a prominent presence in Irish aviation and beyond.

Dublin City University

Andy MacIntyre, Lecturer in Aviation studies, DCU emphasises the development of leadership, teamwork and communication skills. All of which are important in such a connected industry.

Extraordinary Circumstances

Andy says that ‘never have these skills been more needed than now in the extraordinary circumstances caused by the Covid-19 virus. This is a time of increased stress and anxiety for everyone, especially students. However, I have seen a lot of evidence of aviation students pulling together and looking after each other. Demonstrating many of the skills that will ensure that this crisis, like many previous crisis, will be overcome.

From individual students, to class reps and from aviation societies to IASA, actions are being taken. With the help of lecturers, to ensure the difficulties that will inevitably arise with studies will be lessened as much as possible.’

The Industry is in Safe Hands

‘As I have mentioned the aviation industry has been through crises before. Oil shocks, terrorism, and global economic downturns have all been challenges. This is perhaps the biggest challenge to date, however I have no doubt, given the quality of the young people that are about to enter the aviation industry over the coming years, that this challenge will be met. The industry is in safe hands.’

Irish Aviation Students Association

We also spoke to a representative from the Irish Aviation Students Association to find out more from their position.

Immense effect on the industry

‘Covid-19 is having an immense effect on the Industry, with airlines all over the world being forced to ground their fleets. For obvious reasons this has worried aviation students. IASA is a key player in communicating entry level job opportunities to students and graduates within the industry. We continue to receive feedback from students on how the outbreak is affecting them. 

Over the past few weeks, recruitment freezes implemented by companies have resulted in a drastic decrease in the number of graduate, intern and apprenticeship positions available. Successful students that had already accepted such positions and were ready to start have had their contracts terminated. This means that students may be denied the opportunity to complete an internship as part of their course. The feedback IASA has received over the years from students is that an internship is crucial for building confidence, networking and refining/developing skills. Naturally, many students are worried about graduating into an industry with no relevant work experience.’

Unable to go about normal university life

‘Many final year students have contacted us with concerns about the lack of graduate opportunities and what kind of job market they will be faced with when they graduate this year. All these fears are heightened by the fact that students are unable to go about normal university life and sit their final summer exams in a conventional manner. University exams are not normally conducted online. Therefore, it is natural that final year students are apprehensive about the impact this will have on their degree.

Nobody is sure how this pandemic will play out and what the effect on the industry will be. What is important right now, is that students continue to put themselves in the best possible position for securing employment when the crisis eventually passes. Students would benefit from using the extra time they have to undertake various free online courses that will help build their CV. IASA has published a blog on some of the courses available to students.’

We must look after one another

‘As students, we must look after one another. Many students will encounter tough times in the months ahead and it is important that we give a helping hand to those that need it. This great industry that we all love was built through teamwork and perseverance. As the next generation of aviation professionals, we must persevere and work together in order to ensure that our industry emerges stronger.’

No matter what

Great words and sentiment from a great group of young people. 2020 is going to be tough. However, companies know the value of interns and new-hire graduates. The Airline Pilot Club has no doubt that well qualified, capable people will be the first to benefit from the recovery. 

Keep well, stay safe and stay at home.

Andy

 

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