Green Africa, a local airline in Nigeria has rolled out a grand capacity building programme that will train pilots, aircraft engineers and other professionals numbering 1,440 over the next 10 years. The ambitious programme aims to create a glut of core professionals in the local air transport, with job opportunities for more Nigerians in an emerging local aviation sector.
According to guardian.ng, Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the carrier, Babawande Afolabi, told reporters in Lagos that the ‘g-Future’ programme has already commenced with the first set of aspiring pilots and engineers undergoing training. The CEO noted that training pilots and engineers is an expensive venture that sets an entry barrier against talented Nigerians, limiting both operators and industry growth.
“But we have to brave the odds for the sake of the sector. So, over the next decade, we are planning to graduate about 200 captains, about 140 flight dispatchers, about 500 cabin crew, about 100 engineers and about 500 other professionals.
“When we say aviation professionals, some people think of pilots and engineers alone. But there is a whole lot more within the aviation business; you have network planning, aviation and aircraft financing, among the specialties. So, you can see other opportunities for the 500 workforce of professionals.
“We said 10 years, but this is not just going to end after 10 years. So, when we say 200 in 10 years, we already have in view where we would be in 12 months, 18 months and so on. When we approach three years, then already, we are looking at the next 10 years,” Afolabi projected.
Though he would not put a cost to the investment, the CEO noted that the programme had commenced with four young pilots getting type-rated every month, in anticipation of becoming captains in another four or five years.
Also, about eight Second Officers are getting groomed at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), while cabin crew and technicians are not left out.
“There is a shortage and the more folks we train, the easier it is to have manpower and that is part of the key objectives. My fundamental belief is that the fear of trained workers leaving the company afterwards should not hold us back from training them.
“We will go into contractual agreements (with trainees) that ‘Green Africa spent this amount of money to train you and you need to work for Green Africa for this period of time’. If for whatever reason an opportunity comes up and someone needs to leave, it will be negotiated. But it’s not going to be the case that you have a bond that enslaves you. No!
“My hope is that we can get to a certain level like it is done in other parts of the world where someone comes in and says: ‘I like this platform, I’d like to join this platform and I’m willing to pay for my trainees, so tell me how much I am to pay’. There is a module for that, though we are not yet there,” Afolabi said.
Director of Airworthiness Standard at the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Kayode Ajiboye, lauded the initiative, describing it as a strategic move to develop local content and sustain airlines’ operations.