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A shortage of pilots is making travel chaos in Canada even worse

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From pandemic-related travel restrictions to extreme weather events, Canada’s travel industry has navigated an unprecedented amount of uncertainty of late. And now, just as demand for travel has returned to its 2019 level, airlines are navigating their next patch of turbulence: a lack of qualified pilots.

According to Transport Canada, in a typical pre-pandemic year, roughly 1,100 pilot licences were issued. When complemented by foreign-trained pilots, that was generally more than enough to satisfy the needs of carriers as large as WestJet and Air Canada, all the way down to regional, charter and cargo airlines.

But as demand for flying collapsed in 2020, so did the number of new pilots getting their paperwork. Government data shows less than 500 licences were awarded in 2020, a figure that fell to less than 300 in 2021 and just 238 last year.

The department told CBC News in a statement that while labour shortages in the airline sector has been “identified as a priority area for action,” there are no current plans to loosen regulations. But the agency says it’s doing what it can to “increase the competitiveness of the Canadian flight training industry as well as improve the viability of aviation careers to address any shortages.”

Whatever changes do come will do little to help anyone in the short term, and travellers are already seeing the impact of the industry’s current labour crunch.

Staff shortages were a factor in charter airline Sunwing’s cancellation of 67 flights over the last two weeks of December, along with extreme weather.

Salaries for experienced pilots generally go up faster and higher at the major airlines than they do at most others, they are so typically able to have their pick among those available. That causes shortages just about everywhere else.

The head of the Air Transport Association of Canada says it’s a problem that had been brewing for many years, even before the pandemic.

“We haven’t had enough pilots for a long time, mostly at the regional level,” John McKenna said.

Long, expensive process

Getting a commercial licence is the last step in a multi-year process of becoming a pilot, a journey that can cost tens of thousands of dollars and take years.

In Canada, for many that journey ends with a dream job at either WestJet or Air Canada, but because of the expense and time commitment of training a new pilot, the major airlines often hire top staff from smaller carriers instead of methodically developing their own.

“Their fishing grounds is the regional carriers. And the regional carriers go down to the smaller carriers, air taxi groups … those levels have been hurting for many years,” McKenna said.

Canada’s two biggest airlines told CBC News in emailed statements that while there is indeed a higher than normal demand for pilots right now, both of them are managing to meet their needs.

“As a large global carrier operating the most modern, largest aircraft, we are a very desirable destination for talented pilots,” AIr Canada said. “As a result, we are able to attract pilots as required.”

“We have and continue to responsibly manage and plan our operations to meet the anticipated demand of our guests and are fully staffed across our network to support our operation,” WestJet said.

That’s not the case for everyone else. Small airlines often have so few pilots on staff that it doesn’t take the loss of very many to stop planes from flying.

Dave Boston
Dave Boston is a licensed pilot and also runs a job board to help other pilots find work. (Dave Boston)

In the fall, Sunwing applied to bring in more than 60 temporary foreign workers to meet demand for pilots, but that application was rejected, which exacerbated the chaos seen at the end of 2022. The airline has since cancelled almost all flights out of Saskatchewan and most out of Manitoba for the rest of the winter travel season.

Pandemic reduced numbers, too

It’s not just the big boys gobbling up all the qualified pilots, either. Many simply left the profession during the pandemic.

“Two years ago, to the day, literally almost every pilot [was] out of work,” says Dave Boston, a pilot with 25 years experience who’s also the man behind Edmonton-based aviation job board, Pilot Career Centre.

Faced with furloughs and layoffs at airlines big and small, many pilots tried to wait it out, but many simply moved on, he told CBC News in an interview.

“Many who had businesses or other interests, after maybe six months to a year, had to put food on the table, and they left the industry,” Boston said.

For the pilots who are left, headhunting is the new normal. He says he hears from desperate airlines every day, because they either can’t find the staff, or just lost yet another one. “It’s very common for pilots, unfortunately, to work there for six months [then] get a surprise interview that they don’t expect to get, and then they’re gone,” he said.

“It’s a real challenge right now.”

Zona Savic, right, listens to her instructor inside the cockpit of a flight simulator unit at Seneca College. Savic has long dreamt of being a pilot, and a lack of qualified flyers means she should have plenty of job prospects once she graduates.
Zona Savic, right, listens to her instructor inside the cockpit of a flight simulator unit at Seneca College. Savic has long dreamt of being a pilot, and a lack of qualified flyers means she should have plenty of job prospects once she graduates. (Shawn Benjamin/CBC)

One person hoping to meet that challenge is Zona Savic, a soon-to-be graduate of one of Canada’s premier aviation schools, Seneca College in Peterborough, Ont.

While she had planned to go into engineering, she joined the Air Cadets while in high school, and was quickly bitten by the aviation bug.

“I just knew from the moment that I was in that plane, this is what I was going to do,” she told CBC News in an interview.

She’s on track to get her pilot’s licence soon, and while she may do additional training to become an instructor herself, she says it’s a load off her mind to know that she won’t have to worry about finding a job.

And even better for the industry, she has no qualms about working her way up at smaller carriers flying niche, remote routes.

” I just love the feeling of flying, so if that’s what I’m doing, I don’t really care if I’m in Paris, or in Nunavut,” she says. “Anything is good for me, as long as I get to experience that.”

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Before Spending Money on a ‘Career Coach,’ Do Yourself a Favour, First Try These Job Search Strategies

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I’m sure you’re aware of the “career coaching” industry—Internet talking heads promising job search and career success—that’s sprung up in recent years. Worth noting: The industry is unregulated. All career coaches are self-proclaimed; no certification or licensing is required.

 

Career coaches have one ultimate goal: To make money off you.

 

Today’s tight job market is making job seekers frustrated and desperate, which career coaches are taking advantage of with their promise of insider knowledge, personalized guidance, and a direct line to the hidden job market. Career coaches market themselves as a shortcut to finding a job, which is appealing when you’ve been unemployed for a while.

 

I’m not averse to hiring a career coach to assist you with your job search; it’s your money. However, keep in mind a career coach…

 

  • is a significant expense, especially if you’re unemployed
  • will only offer common sense advice, nothing that you probably already don’t know or haven’t read or heard before, and
  • doesn’t have insider knowledge

 

…and you’ll still need to do the activities related to job searching.

 

When asked, “Nick, should I hire a career coach?” my answer is an unequivocal “No!” Conducting your job search solo will not only save you money, you’ll also be developing job search skills you’ll need for the next time—chances are there’ll be a next time—you’re job hunting. Before spending thousands of dollars on a career coach, I suggest first trying the following job search strategies.

 

Optimize your online presence.

 

In today’s digital-first job market, employers will check your online digital footprint to evaluate your candidacy; are your interview-worthy? Start with the obvious: Ensure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and showcases your quantified accomplishments (a non-quantified statement is an opinion) so employers can see the value you can add. Do yourself a favour, read LinkedIn Mastery: A Comprehensive Guide to Navigating Digital Landscapes Effectively, by Benjamin Stone.

 

Necessary: Stay active on LinkedIn!

 

Your LinkedIn profile can’t be non-active. Maximizing LinkedIn’s potential requires regularly engaging with content, commenting on posts, and contributing original content. Engaging actively and visibly on LinkedIn will lead to opportunities.

 

Next:

 

  • List your social media accounts.
  • Deactivate accounts you are no longer using.
  • Set any accounts you don’t want prospective employers or recruiters to see to private.
  • Ensure your social media profiles (g., display name, handle, headshot, bio) convey the same message about your professional background.

 

Leverage your existing network (a low-hanging fruit few job seekers take advantage of).

 

Everyone has a network of some sort. This means since all job opportunities are attached to people—good news—there are job opportunities all around you. Often, your barista, dentist, hairstylist, neighbours, fellow members of whatever club or association you’re a part of, and, of course, family and friends can help open doors for you.

 

Tell everyone you know that you’re looking for a new job. Always carry extra copies of your resume and hand them out when appropriate. You’ll be surprised at the number of people willing to help you when they understand your situation.

 

Read these two books:

 

 

Ferrazzi outlines practical strategies for building relationships, networking, and leveraging connections

.

 

Hollins provides actionable strategies for achieving your job search and career goals, such as overcoming procrastination and boosting productivity with focus and discipline.

 

Apply less, connect more.

 

Applying online is a waste of time. In previous columns, I’ve noted that applying online is comparable to playing the lottery; you’re hoping a stranger hires you. Numerous studies have shown that most jobs aren’t advertised; they’re filled through connections and referrals.

 

Job searching today is a long game; you need to be patient. Today, you need to network your way into a company and identify opportunities, which no career coach can do for you. It’s unlikely the resume you submit online will be reviewed. Paying to have your resume redesigned won’t get it more views; getting it in front of people who can hire you will.

 

Take what you will from the following.

 

A few months back, a job seeker asked me, “I’ve been working as a help desk agent at a healthcare software company for five years. I want to become a Director of IT at a large multinational company. What should I do?”

 

How should I know? I’m not a Director of IT. Why not ask the Director of IT at a large multinational company?

 

Take advantage of the fact that people love talking about themselves. Dinner with someone who holds the position you aspire to is a better investment than hiring a career coach who lacks your dinner partner’s real-world experience. I charted my career path by observing those ahead of me and seeking their advice. Talking to people who are where you want to be will benefit your job search and help you achieve your career aspirations.

 

By shifting your mindset, optimizing your online presence, leveraging your existing network, staying engaged on LinkedIn, and connecting with the right people, you won’t need to hire a costly career coach, and you’ll develop skills you can use throughout your career.

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Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers “unsweetened” job search advice. You can send Nick your questions to artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

 

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How to Start a Business?

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Market Research

You have to conduct research on the whole market and find out the gap. This gap will be your opportunity. Moreover, this research will give you an idea of how different businesses work and how they fulfill the needs of the people. Businesses work due to the demand for their products and services in the market. So, through this research, you have to collect information about the following things:

 

 

You can use surveys, questionnaires, and focus group interviews to extract information on the above factors.

 

Business Plan

Develop a complete roadmap for your business. This plan should cover all the details from the manufacturing to the sales and pricing.

 

It has a summary of the complete execution of the company, including the mission of the company, product or service of the company, competitors of the company, management, and employees of the company, as well as the location of the company. This plan should be in such a way that everyone can easily understand.

Investment For Business

If you are not self-funded, then you will need investment for your business. There are several ways to find investment, such as the following:

 

●     Venture capital

You can offer the shares of the company in exchange for shares of the company. In the beginning, you have to offer the company ownership to finance your project.

●     Crowdfunding

In this type of investment, a large number of people give funds to the startup. They are not given shares and profits from the company. However, the company provides them with gifts in the future for their finances.

●     Loans

There are many government and private companies that are offering loans for small and large companies. For this loan, you have to prepare a business plan, expense sheet, and expected profits. You can find several companies that are providing loans for businesses, such as Lendforall, Baker Tilly, West Bank Union, etc.

Structure of Business

Before starting a business, you have to select its structure. Traditionally, you will find the following structures of business:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Limited Liability Company
  • Corporation

 

To select any structure, you must analyze and compare your business with others. You will get an idea of which structure will be the most suitable for your business.

Business Tools

Nowadays, there are several business tools available in the market. These tools have made business management easy to a great extent. However, you have to invest in these tools to compete the market. Here are some important tools for business:

 

 

Many other tools are available in the market that are used for different management purposes.

Registration of Business

You have to register your business with the federal government. Moreover, you should apply for the insurance for your business. There are many other documents, such as tax IDs from federal and state governments, licenses and permits for your business, and applying for a business bank account.

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Show Employers You Can Hit the Ground Running

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Employers are increasingly stating: “We want someone who can hit the ground running.”

Essentially, the message is, “Don’t expect us to explain the basics. We expect you to know your sh*t.” Employers understand you’ll need time to learn their business, applications, software, infrastructure, etc. However, they expect that you’re proficient in Microsoft Office Suite software (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), understand file management (creating, saving, and organizing files), and know how to troubleshoot common computer problems, and won’t be learning these basic computer skills as part of your learning curve on their dime.

Employers aren’t in the business of training people. You’re responsible for your career; therefore, you’re responsible for acquiring the skillset you need.

For an employee’s compensation to be justified, an ROI (return on investment) is required. When referring to employment, ROI refers to the value an employee brings to the company relative to their compensation. Employers pay their employees, and employees work for their wages. Employee work value is created when their work directly or indirectly results in profitably selling the company’s goods and services. Your best chance of job security (no guarantee) is to be an employee who undeniably contributes measurable value to your employer’s profitability.

(Employee’s measurable value to the company) – (Employer’s investment in compensation) = (ROI)

Understandably, employers are looking for candidates who can make an immediate impact, individuals who can jump right in, learn and adapt quickly, and start delivering results as soon as possible. Hence, you want to distinguish yourself as being capable and willing to “hit the ground running.”

Here are some tips to help you present yourself as a fast-starting, high-potential hire:

Emphasize relevant experience

Presenting irrelevant information will be perceived as lacking the ability to communicate succinctly, a highly valued skill in the business world. Only share experiences and quantified results (key), results that are pertinent to the position you’re applying for.

When crafting your resume and cover letter, identify the skills, knowledge, and previous responsibilities/quantified results that align with the job you’re aiming for. By demonstrating that you’ve “been there, done that” and brought measurable value to previous employers in a similar scenario, employers will feel confident that you can immediately deliver value.

Showcase transferable skills

Consider the universal soft skills that employers universally value.

  • Analytical
  • Communication
  • Interpersonal
  • Problem-solving
  • Project management
  • Time management

Tell STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) stories—describing a specific situation, the task you were assigned, the actions you took, and the results of your actions—that showcase your soft skills and explain how you can leverage them to succeed in the role you’re applying for. This’ll assure your interviewer you have the fundamental skills to achieve successful outcomes.

“While working at Norback, Jenkins, & St. Clair, I led a team of five architects to redesign a historic downtown Winnipeg landmark according to strict deadlines and complex stakeholder demands. I conducted Monday morning team meetings and used Slack to provide tailored updates to keep the team aligned. As a result of my communication skills, the project was completed on time and under the $7.5 million dollars budget.”

Discuss onboarding insights

A great way to position yourself as someone eager to hit the ground running is to show that you’ve considered what it’ll take to start delivering value.

“Based on my understanding of the typical onboarding timeline for this type of position, I anticipate completing all training and ramp-up activities within my first two weeks, enabling me to begin tackling projects by my first quarter.”

Assuming you’ve researched the company and studied current industry trends, which you should have done, mention the extra steps you’ve taken to prepare for the role. This’ll show your willingness to learn and will require minimal handholding.

Emphasize quick adaptability

Employers value the ability to adapt quickly to new situations and challenges. During your interviews, share examples of your flexibility and agility.

At some point in your career, you’ve likely had to learn something new (e.g., software, operating system) on the fly. Also likely, you’ve had to navigate a major change or disruption. Using STAR stories, explain how you approached these scenarios, your strategies, and the positive outcomes.

By showing resilience, resourcefulness, and adaptability, you demonstrate that you can thrive in ambiguous or rapidly evolving environments.

Propose a transition plan.

Presenting a transition plan is a strategy that wows employers, primarily because it is rare for a candidate to do this. This shows you’re ready to take ownership of your onboarding and deliver results.

Include specifics like:

  • Milestones you aim to accomplish in your first 30, 60, and 90 days.
  • Training activities or learning opportunities you’ll pursue.
  • Initial projects or tasks you’d tackle to demonstrate your capabilities.
  • Ways you’ll quickly build relationships with your new colleagues.

Showing this level of forethought and initiative shows you’re a strategic thinker, able to organize your thoughts, and, most importantly, eager to get started.

By touting your relevant experience, showcasing your transferable skills, discussing your onboarding insights, emphasizing your quick adaptability, and proposing a detailed transition plan, you’ll position yourself as a self-driven professional capable of driving results from the start, differentiating you from your competition.

_____________________________________________________________________

 

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers “unsweetened” job search advice. You can send Nick your questions to artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

 

 

 

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