Open access peer-reviewed chapter

Designing and Developing New VET Curricula to Address Skills Gaps in the Aeronautics Industry

By Rosa Maria Arnaldo Valdés, Victor Fernando Gómez Comendador and Alvaro Rodriguez Sanz

Submitted: September 19th 2016Reviewed: August 17th 2017Published: November 29th 2017

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.70604

Downloaded: 469

Abstract

Aeronautic industry is one of the enablers of the economic development and social insertion at European level, and it is one of the drivers of expansion of remote regions as far as it allows habitants, workers, and companies at these regions to expand their activities and areas of influence. The European aeronautics industry, including the commercial air transport, generates more than 220 billion of Euros and more than 4.5 million of jobs. These figures are expected to be double by 2030. Future developments in the sector, together with greater intra-European mobility of workers and population aging, bring a greater need for new skills in the work force together with an urgency for a larger number of professionals. Therefore, to achieve the desirable sustained growth the EU needs to invest in high-quality VET (vocational education and training) in order to be able to supply the AI (aeronautic industry) with qualified workers. VET stands for education and training which aims to equip people with knowledge, know-how, skills and/or competences required in particular occupations or more broadly on the labor market. This work discusses the outcomes of the AIRVET project, an European partnership whose principal objective is the development and promotion of “curricula and VET courses” in the Maintenance and Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) domains, required for a highly skilled aeronautical workforce.

Keywords

  • vocational education training (VET)
  • aeronautic industry
  • skills needs/skills gaps
  • curricula
  • multimedia resources

1. Introduction

As was recently discussed at a UK Education and Skills meeting organized by the Royal Aeronautical Society, the financial importance of the aerospace industry to the European economy is significant [1]. The aviation industry is estimated to be worth 4.5 Trillion dollars by 2030 [2], and Airbus forecasts that in the period 2014–2033, approximately 31,000 passenger aircraft are required at a value of $4.6tr [3].

Aeronautic industry is recognized by the high-level skilled professionals it engages [4]. Main job positions involve engineers and maintenance technicians trained at the highest level. However, studies [5] show that 85% of its direct employment is concentrated in 5 EU countries, and the aging of EU population threatens the availability of qualified personnel, emerging in skill shortage sector. Some of the most important industry’s problems today are related to skills gaps in current employees as well as the requirement to attract more people into the industry [6].

The industry is constantly developing technology to improve aircraft performance and the efficiency of the operation of airports and aircrafts. This need for a growing number of trained personal can be further seen in statements made by most of the large aviation companies, such as Airbus that: “… has a proactive approach to working with Universities around the world to support the development of future talent. This includes implementing strategic programs such as the Airbus University Board as well as engaging with relevant academic and student networks” [7].

To achieve the desirable sustained growth, the Aeronautic Industry highly depends on the availability of flexible and high-skilled labor force. The overall performance of Aerospace education and training must be improved and a balance between initial and continuous education and training has to be established [8].

2. Designing and developing new vet curricula to address skills gaps in the aeronautics industry

EU needs to invest in high-quality vocational education training (VET) in order to be able to supply the aeronautic industry (AI) with qualified workers [9]. EU aeronautics industry needs to be considered as a global industry rather than a national one, and mobility of workers is undeniable. A close cooperation among VET systems from different EU countries is also desirable to cope with the demands of the growing aeronautical industry:

  • enhancement of the global outcomes of the learning process;

  • collaboration between European VET providers and training systems;

  • equilibrium between vocational training activities along the workers life; and

  • effective application of knowledge and skills independently whether they have been learned in official and non-formal contexts.

The AIRVET (aeronautic industry skills resolution for a more efficient VET offer) project is a long life learning initiative financed by the European Commission to prepare industry and society to face challenges identified hereafter.

Its main objective is to design, develop, evaluate and disseminate adapted/new AI curricula and VET courses in the specific fields of maintenance and information and communications technologies (ICT).

The main results expected by AIRVET are:

  • Identification of training and regulatory frameworks, and training gaps and opportunities for the development of VET curricula and training initiatives.

  • Design of curricula and multimedia resources for training based on innovative ways of delivering VET, e.g., learning-based games, 2D/3D graphics, low cost simulations, virtual reality, etc.

  • Delivering the curricula by developing pilot runs, practical learning sessions in which the dynamic solutions will be tested in order to collect opinions from both the trainers and the participants on the educational programs and innovative learning approaches.

2.1. Phases and activities

AIRVET is implementing a series of activities and producing outputs for different target groups. The work plan has three main phases, summarized in Table 1, and includes open channels of communication through online tools and a series of events to assess the projects product with stakeholders of the industry and to disseminate the project. Project phases, outcomes, and events are summarized in Figure 1.

PhaseMain outputShort description
Analysis of skills needsTerritorial analysisCollection of training needs involving the stakeholders of the sector
Curricula designAI training curriculaAI maintenance and ICT training curricula/program
Curricula deliveryMultimedia resourcesMultimedia resources for training (minimum 3) + user’s guide manual

Table 1.

Phases for VET improvement.

Figure 1.

Phases, outcomes, and events of the AIRVET initiative.

3. Territorial analysis of skills needs

The initial outcome of the project has consisted in an extensive work to identify the training and regulatory frameworks, as well as the training gaps and opportunities for the improvement and development of VET curricula and training initiatives [10].

The methodology undertaken aimed to identify potential areas of training gaps, curricula that need to be developed or updated or training materials, where improvements could be achieved. The work carried out to investigate these issues, named “Territorial analysis,” was split into three components, as illustrated on Figure 2:

  • a desk study to identify and analyze the current VET programs offered in the airline industry in Europe and determine the principal EU regulations that structured the training in the aviation industry and identify skill gaps;

  • a questionnaires study to sought views directly from practitioners to obtain information on their views of skills needs and skills gaps, current training available, and methods of training delivery;

  • a focus groups on skills needs study to foster face-face discussion among agents in the aviation industry using the preliminary results obtained from the desk research and questionnaire analysis.

Figure 2.

Phases of the Territorial Analyses of skills needs.

3.1. Desk study analysis

The desk study was wide ranging and addressed many aspects of the aviation industry including air traffic management, airlines, and airport operations. It has brought the following conclusions:

  • The training of pilots and air traffic control personal and Cabin crew training are highly regulated and supplemented by frequent in-house training. There was no evidence of skills gaps, which was expected in these high safety critical roles.

  • For airport operations, although there are several international bodies that promote and endorse aviation training, there are also many roles that require unregulated training that is carried out by the airport companies. In many countries, especially those without a large aerospace industry, there are few opportunities for people to find out about the career opportunities within airports. This gap leaves potential employees uninformed about the opportunities available. The creation of open-source training materials that could be used outside of an airport training centre may be beneficial in increasing recruitment but also providing new employee’s basic knowledge of how an airport operates.

  • Manufacturing skills are normally obtained via an apprenticeship and countries usually have their own defined systems. It is not clear what additional training companies deliver and they rarely publish information on specialized courses they operate. The gap mainly discussed in the literature is the lack of new entrants. Materials to inform and enthusiasm the youth to engage in apprenticeships would be beneficial.

  • The training of the people who maintain aircrafts is regulated at EU level. It is unlikely that this project could influence the training undertaken, but it could produce materials that can be used to enhance training, an example being for those opting to carry out self-learning. There were some skills gaps identified for specific aircraft types that are not common and for the new technology of electric driven aircraft.

3.2. Questionnaire study analysis

To perform the questionnaire study, stakeholders were subdivided into four categories as shown in Figure 3. The questionnaire was bespoke designed, as indicated in Table 2, considering each stakeholder group characteristics [11].

Figure 3.

Stakeholder categories and specific survey areas.

Question categoriesWorkersIndustry (managers)VET providersVET trainers
Demographics
Company backgroundOperating country
Company size
Workers role
Operating country
Company size
Company function
Operating country
Aerospace activity
Operating country
Aerospace activity
Worker backgroundAge
Work experience
Education background
Current training information
Training related to soft skillsTraining experienceTraining provisionCourses runCourses run
Training related to technical skillsTraining experienceTraining provisionCourses runCourses run
Training delivery method (tradition, CBT, blended, etc.)Training received and preferredTraining providedTraining provided
Skill gaps and training development
General areas of skills gapsTraining neededSkill gaps identifiedSkill gaps descriptionSkill gaps description
Future skills gaps identification and training developmentPreferred training delivery methodFuture skills gap descriptionCourse development driversCourse development drivers

Table 2.

Set of questions pose to the different groups.

3.2.1. Survey circulation and response

An intensive survey questionnaire distribution campaign was put in place to maximize its circulation across the European aviation industry and to ensure a wide range of aviation industry workers and professionals reaction. Population been reached by the questionnaire distribution campaign it was roughly around 16,500 persons distributed as summarized in the Table 3, distinguishing among “primary readers” (persons directly reached) and “secondary readers” (resulting from circulation of the survey inside companies and institutions).

Distribution mediumPrimary readersSecondary readersGlobal targets
AIRVET Website1000
Estimated figure through the number of visits on the web page
1000
Direct email approaches2085
2085 emails were sent
2085
Paper copy distribution200
Rough figure (people without access to the online questionnaires, meetings with aerospace personal, conferences and exhibitions
200
Social media300
Estimated figure through the number of followers on social media
300
Professional organizationsDetails of the AIRVET project and a request to complete the questionnaires were circulated by professional organizations such as:
The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (UK) magazine bulletin 1030
It was distributed to all members (approximately 1030) readers.
1500 [12]2530
The Institution for the Development of Vocational Training for Workers (Italy) (published in the EuroGuidance newsletter) 617 members10,000 [13]10,617
A stand at the “Futures Day” at 2014 Farnborough Airshow
EU training organizations represented
320352
Total number of targets reached by the questionnaire survey informationPrimary readersSecondary readersTotal
526411,82017,084

Table 3.

Population reached by the questionnaire distribution.

Survey demographics summarizes how the distribution of responses obtained from EU countries varied by stakeholder group. The greatest number of responses was obtained from the industry workers (81%), while 19% of the responses were received from industry mangers. Responses from VET providers and trainers were very similar. Although only two responses were obtained from UK VET providers, these were from the Aviation Skills Partnership (ASP) and SEMTA, which are the two key bodies. The majority of responses were obtained from the partner countries (95% of the responses). Response rates in France, Portugal, and the UK were fairly even (6–9%), while responses from Italy were slightly higher (12%). The majority of responses from industry workers and managers were from people working in large companies with greater than 200 employees (39% and 59%, respectively). Representation from small companies was only 11% and 10%.

Responses from both, the workers and managers survey indicate coverage from at least a dozen aerospace sectors (Figure 4). Interviewed VET providers and trainers, 67% of respondents indicated that more than 50% of their training was carried out in the aerospace sector.

Figure 4.

Distribution of aircraft industry companies responding to survey.

Based on industry data [14], it was concluded that the proportion of responses between managers and workers obtained through the questionnaire was similar to that existing within European companies. In European industry, the distribution between managers and workers accounts to approximately 7% managers and 93% workers. In the survey, the results show that the 12.5% of the people asked were managers and the 87.5% of them workers.

Nevertheless, the survey could give a bit-biased overview of the whole industry because there were countries with a strong aerospace industry, like Germany, France, or United Kingdom with little representation in the survey, and countries with a weak aerospace industry with have had a larger representation in the responses, like the case of Poland (see Table 4).

CountryRespondents% of total×1000 employees in the sector% of total
The Netherlands30.5815.773.14
Spain8616.5738.137.59
France203.85143.228.49
U.K.356.75103.7820.65
Poland20038.5314.052.80
Italy244.6241.68.28
Portugal305.7850.99
Germany61.1695.0818.92
Sweden10.198.251.64
Others11421.9737.747.51

Table 4.

Relationship between weight of responses obtained and real participation of labor force in the aeronautical industry by country.

In other terms, according to the responses obtained in the questionnaire concerning worker’s qualification, 74% of people who answered the questionnaire have a university degree, 14% have college education, 6% school education, and 6% other. When comparing this to the actual situation of the industry, in the European aerospace sector, the percentages are quite different. Only 38% of workers have university education, while 41% of them have technical education and 21% have other education.

3.2.2. Training experiences

The majority of aircraft industry workers have attended job’s related training courses in the last 3 years (96%). Of these training events, workers reported that 48% were in subjects related to soft skills and 52% in technical areas as illustrated in Figure 5.

Figure 5.

Number of training courses attended by workers over the last 3 years.

Of the soft skills training received, the highest reported area was health and safety (20% of courses attended). Team working, communication skills, data protection, general, project, and risk management were the next popular and ranged between 7 and 12% of courses. This distribution was very similar to that provided by the management, with 13% of the courses provided in health and safety and team working, communication skills, data protection, general, project and risk management each accounting for 8–11% of provision (see Figure 6).

Figure 6.

Distribution of soft skills training courses attended by workers and provided by managers.

Training in soft skills is delivered by both VET providers and trainers. However, while 43% of courses delivered by VET providers are in soft skills, only 32% of courses delivered by VET trainers are in soft skills, as can be seen in Figure 7.

Figure 7.

Distribution of soft skills training courses provided by VET providers and VET trainers.

Technical skills courses attended by industry workers were fairly evenly distributed across the categories surveyed, as can be observed in Table 5. Courses related to safety, security, and human factors were most frequently attended. This was reflected by the training courses being provided by management.

Technical skillsTotal number of courses undertaken by workersTotal number of courses offered by management
ICT maintenance/logistics services5115
Workshop practice5630
Human factors9545
CAD/CAM2231
Stress analysis2928
Aircraft design4510
Cargo handling systems2013
Aerodynamics3219
Airport emergency procedures4331
Aircraft ground handling systems2626
Airport/aircraft regulations6641
Aircraft maintenance procedures3835
Aircraft maintenance equipment2529
Air traffic control5525
Aircraft manufacturing2015
Airport operations4431
Airworthiness4639
Research and development4324
Safety10554
Security5146
Other62

Table 5.

Technical skills training courses provided by industry management and attended by workers.

The distribution of courses delivered by VET providers and VET trainers in technical skills are shown in Figure 8. Course provision was rather evenly distributed across the categories surveyed. Aircraft regulation and maintenance accounted for a major percentage of courses provided (19% providers, 22% trainers). In terms of specific subjects, human factor training was the largest provision in both groups (providers 11% and trainers 9%).

Figure 8.

Distribution of technical skills training courses provided by VET providers and trainers.

3.2.3. Current possible skills gaps: Identification and training development

The areas of training gaps identified by the managers are shown in Figure 9. The top four predefined list categories are:

  • ICT maintenance/logistics.

  • Airport emergency procedures.

  • Air traffic control.

  • Ground handling systems.

Figure 9.

Areas of current skills gaps identified by industry managers.

The skills gaps results shown in Figure 10 identify the subject areas where VET providers and VET trainers have emphasized the need for training materials. The majority of VET providers believed there is a requirement for maintenance equipment and ICT documentation with an equal percentage for the other common themes.

Figure 10.

Areas of current skills gaps identified by VET providers and VE trainers.

The majority of VET trainers identified human factors as the most significant subject area. ICT maintenance and ATSEP were mentioned in several areas including air navigation and baggage handling indicating the diverse interpretation of this term.

In addition to asking the four groups what they thought were current and future skills gaps, the VET providers were asked what the drivers for the development of new courses were. Figure 11 shows that the majority of the training development (42%) is influenced by requests from the customer/industry. The next largest driver is market research (18%).

Figure 11.

Drivers for the development of new courses as identified by the VET providers.

Both VET providers and trainers indicated that resource issues (manpower, money, lack of time and lack of expertise) were the main reasons why courses were not developed in areas where they had identified gaps (Figure 12).

Figure 12.

Reasons identified by VET providers and VET trainers why courses are not developed.

3.2.4. Summary of training requirements

The most frequently identified skills gaps are summarized in Table 6. The first column lists eight general skill gap areas that were most frequently identified. The second column highlights specific topics within these categories. There is some repetition of ATSEP, but this is included and illustrates that certain topics do not fit neatly into a single category.

Skills gap opportunities
Aircraft ground handlingBaggage/Cargo handling systems
Carriage of dangerous goods
ATSEP (Air Traffic Safety Electronics Personnel) training for BPM (baggage handling)
Aircraft structural maintenanceComposite material
Repair of aircraft structures (composite repair)
Repair of aircraft structures (metallic repair)
Nondestructive testing/Inspection of new composite materials
RPAV/UAS (remotely piloted air vehicle)Air traffic control/integration with normal air traffic
New national/European legislation (particularly with regard to RPAV)
Single European sky legislation
Performance based navigation
SMS (Safety Management Systems)Training on SMS for aeronautical industry (CAP 760 implementation: FMECA, HAZOP, Event Tree methods)
Aerodrome certification and Safety Management Systems: ICAO Annex 19
Risk Assessment techniques: identification & mitigation
Maintenance of specific Airport OperationsATSEP (Air Traffic Safety Electronics Personnel) Training
Maintenance and Inspection of equipment for Edge (light controls)
Maintenance and installation of airport/runway lighting (CAP637 implementation: obstacle lighting & marking / aeronautical ground lighting)
Aircraft operationFlight dispatch optimization (optimization of the scheduling of aircraft maintenance for items not part of the MMEL)
Aeronautical industry introductionKey concepts and drivers in the aeronautical industry (could be airline, airport or aircraft driven). Provide new workers with introduction.
Human factors

Table 6.

Summary of frequently identified skills gaps (according to the questionnaires results).

The main drivers for the development of new courses are meeting the needs of industry and the regulatory bodies. Currently, most courses are taught using traditional methods; however, the workers identified a desire for blended and practical-based delivery. Among the principal skill gaps, safety and human factors were often underlined.

3.3. Focus group study analysis

The focus groups generally confirmed that the gaps identified as part of the desk study and questionnaire analysis do exist. They also introduced some new areas of skills gaps. As result they inferred that:

  • The main gaps identified with existing employees are associated with the less regulated sections of the industry and airport operations.

  • Soft skills as management, communication, presentations are mentioned frequently as an area where further training is needed in the workforce.

  • Human factors become a topic of interest, even more in connection with safety applications.

  • Remotely piloted aircrafts or unmanned aircraft systems, was acknowledged as an emerging topic with increasing knowledge demand.

  • Problems in recruiting skilled staff and the need to make youngers aware of job prospects are clearly recognized as upsetting.

3.3.1. Main findings on training and skills gaps

Potential skills and training gaps have been identified in the following areas:

  • Airport operations: creation of open-source training materials that could be used outside of an airport training center may be beneficial in increasing recruitment but also providing new employee’s basic knowledge of how an airport operates.

  • Manufacturing skills are normally obtained via an apprenticeship and countries usually have their own defined systems. The gap mainly discussed in the literature is the lack of new entrants, therefore materials to inform and enthusiasm the youth to engage in apprenticeships were considered beneficial.

  • Regarding maintenance, beside the high level of regulation, the production of materials that can be used to enhance training, an example being for those opting to carry out self-learning was considered beneficial; as well as the training the use of practical tools and methods and techniques to achieve the administrative, planning, and time management burden especially in a more electronic world. Also, some opportunities were found for enhanced training material to compliment the available texts and support learners with material constructed around the modular syllabus defined in EC 1149/2011. Annex III, Part-66, App I.

  • A developing subject area, for which a future need is anticipated, is training for remotely piloted aircraft systems. There is very little official training presently available, and the topic is still being debated in terms of the levels of EU regulation.

  • A training area that is growing in demand, and for which there is not much provision is Air Traffic Safety Electronics Personnel (ATSEP).

The project team decided that three subject areas should be explored in terms of developing/adapting training curricula and developing multimedia training materials in the second year of the project:

  • Maintenance: a proposal was made to produce stimulating multimedia materials from some of the chapters included in the EASA maintenance basic license curricula, such as contents on helicopter aerodynamics, propulsion, and human factors.

  • Ground operations: this broad subject area was highlighted in several pieces of work and by several countries, and gaps have been identified in the working knowledge of how an airport functions and how the various roles interact. The training currently undertaken has a significant vocational element. Most of the suggestions addressed knowledge required for increase safety and awareness of hazards at work, as well as human factors issues.

  • Human factors: human factors was a topic of interest in all the phases of the study, including literature review, questionnaires, focus groups, and interviews. This theme has strong implications for maintenance workers and ground operations staff.

Human factors was nominated as crucial to familiarize new workers with the operation of an airport; to stress potential occupations and to give youth and public a closer outline of the aerospace industry.

4. Curricula design

One of the objectives of AIRVET was to produce a curricula bespoke to fill the skills gaps identified in the project and to complement the training offer inside the aviation domain [15]. The territorial analysis delineated four VET areas within the EU aeronautical industry that might benefit from enhancements [16]. All of them could be approached from the human factors perspective. Implementation of the human factors topic to address these areas is summarized in Table 7.

Target audienceTraining needComments
Maintenance technicianImprovement in the teaching materials and soft skill developmentImprove the training materials of the Human Factors module in the Part 66 approved training manual
Airport operation operativesUp skilling and induction of workers to address skills/training gaps and improve operation safetyProvide exposure to human factors to address skills gaps. Short introductory course to the topics
Human factors as part of an induction for new workersAwareness training of the subject and its importanceIts importance on the development of safety awareness and safety systems. The vehicle used to support the development of the other three areas
Future workersNew training materialProvide introductory training materials for future workers who have had no exposure to the subject or the “Aviation Culture.”

Table 7.

The 4 areas identified for development of training materials that utilizes human factors.

A summary of the four courses and the associated human factors modules are shown in Table 8. As it can be seen human factors are a common subject in each course, although the four courses target a different set of the aviation industry’s employees, and the courses and learning resources have been developed for each target audience. The approach taken ensures that the training materials developed can be fully utilized by the target audiences and where necessary, complies with the EU aviation regulation framework.

Course titlePurposeCourse lengthModule developedModule length
EASA Part 66 maintenance course and human factorsCourse is not changed, but module 9 on human factors has been developed to include planning and time managementTypically 2 yearsHuman factors in aircraft maintenance50 h
Human factors in airport operations for new workersAn induction course for new workers comprising 5, 1 day, modules1 weekAn introduction to human factors in airport operations8 h
Human factor awareness training for managersDesign of a module to support VET providers in developing an introductory human factors course for managersAs defined by the VET providerHuman factors in Airport Management50 h
Airport industry introduction courseA short course, comprising of four modules, to attempt to enthuse young people about possible careers within an airport environment1 dayHuman performance and limitations90 min

Table 8.

A summary of the four courses and modules developed.

The work required to design the curricula was split into a number of activities to ensure that the aims of the project were met (see Figure 13). The creation of the curriculum for each of the four training courses required the definition of course:

  • A module is a separate unit of instruction. A course will be made up of a number of different modules, with each module covering a different topic area. Each module description contains detailed objectives, learning outcomes, indicative content, details of assessment, and resource requirements.

  • A learning object is a short multimedia based training session [17]. They will correspond to a total of 2 h of multimedia presentations complemented with guidelines on how the training material can be implemented.

  • A course descriptor is a document that defines the course and includes descriptions of the learning objectives and modules, besides other generic information about the course.

  • Course documentation provides an overview of the course, the teaching approach and its component modules.

Figure 13.

Strategy/methodology for curriculum design.

4.1. Curricula delivery

The curricula delivery aimed to produce new training materials around human factors topics for distinct target groups to meet the needs of the areas identified in the project and to provide trainees with a sufficient understanding of the value that human factors knowledge. The audience is made up of people that are not experts of what human factors is about; mainly students/future workers, maintenance technicians, and airport operations workers.

The AIRVET e-learning training materials includes four curricula, three learning objectives, and nine lessons, plus a detailed description of the multimedia materials developed highlighting contents, format, and target audience; including a manual for users to assist trainers in the use of the materials in the training courses. All materials are available in English, French, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Figure 14 provides details about the main topics and related sub-topics composing the AIRVET training materials. The lesson start with a story or a case study, includes exercises test the user’s knowledge, and at the end of the lesson, a screen “Lesson learnt” display a list of the key concept to remember (see Figure 15). Figure 16 presents some examples of the training units.

Figure 14.

AIRVET e-learning materials.

Figure 15.

Lesson’s structure.

Figure 16.

Screenshots of a training unit slide (module 2).

4.2. Evaluation of the new multimedia on line training programs

Quality and effectiveness of the multimedia courses and materials become a key issue to guarantee the success of a training program specifically oriented to meet industry needs in regard to human factors skills and knowledge among its future staff [18]. The evaluation of this training program is therefore concerned with the determination of change in the student behavior and the change needed in the organizational structure where the student will be immerse [19]. Hence, training must be evaluated in this case as the process of developing skills, habits, knowledge, and attitudes for the purpose of preparing students for future positions and maximize their effectiveness [20]. To evaluate the effectiveness of such a process, some authors [21] have adapted a popular organizational training evaluation framework, the Kirkpatrick’s four level model of training criteria [22], to the assessment of educational effectiveness in higher education.

Additionally, the assessment of HF training programs is particularly problematic because the difficulties in measuring effective improvements in human factures performances with standard test, such as motivation, social interaction, innovation, pride of work, etc. Kirkpatrick‘s model have also demonstrate in the past its suitability for summative evaluation of human issues programs [23].

Kirkpatrick model foundational principle is “The end is the beginning.” Its philosophy is focused first on the desired results and second on the conduct required to achieve them. In that regard, instructors must identify the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that will result in the wanted performances.

The ultimate defy would be to build up a training package that aids the participants to absorb the knowledge they need and also to enjoy from the training program. Kirkpatrick is based on four stages evaluation procedure. The four level model consists of reaction, learning, behavior, and results criteria.

The project has organized pilot runs at four countries to test the learning materials. Pilot runs consist of a practical learning sessions in which the “dynamic” solutions developed (training materials) have been tested by trainees and workers in aerospace industry, and opinions from trainers and participants on the educational programs and innovative learning approaches have been collected. Pilot runs events have been held in four different countries: Spain, Italy, France, and Poland.

These pilot runs are essential to collect opinions both from trainers and participants on the training programs and innovative learning approaches, so the alliance can readjust them accordingly. More than 150 attendees have participated in the assessment. Figure 17 summarizes the pilot run realized by the project.

Figure 17.

Pilot run exercises.

5. Conclusions

This paper illustrates the attempt made by AIRVET project to synthesize both current training needs and skill gaps in the aerospace industry, particularly at six European countries: Italy, France, Portugal, Poland, UK, and Spain.

To accomplished this objective the project performed a desk study, questionnaires from more than 500 people, interviews with managers and focus group with experts. The project attempted to triangulate the results to establish clear areas that would benefit from the development of vocational training.

The project have also identified and discussed the principal regulations that govern training syllabi and the skills gaps to cope with continuously evolving technologies. All those skill gaps can be tackle through well-planned lifelong learning programs. It was also indicated the benefits of better communications resources such as multimedia materials to revitalize education or broaden knowledge spreading.

From the desk research, a lack of information on skills gaps with employees was found. Many subject areas have been suggested as having skill gaps. Health and safety were the most relevant need that came out from the questionnaires, followed by human factors, safety systems, and management. The skill gaps were confirmed by the focus groups.

Soft skills were regularly cited as an area of concern for new entrants and also for current staff. One of the explanations of this need is that while technical skills are learned through formal training, it is not the case for soft skills that are mostly acquired through experience and not formal training.

Three subject domains were identified to be explored in terms of developing/adapting training curricula and developing multimedia training materials in the second year of the project:

  • Maintenance: considering the 17 modules in the EASA “basic license,” topics can be identified that could be used to produce exciting multimedia presentations: Module 12 on helicopter aerodynamics, Module 14 on propulsion, and Module 9 on introduction to human factors. In particular, this last topic has been highlighted throughout this study as one where employees need additional education. Improved training package for self-learning and additional materials for trainers and providers are envisage

  • Ground operations: gaps have been identified in the working knowledge of how an airport functions and how the various roles interact. This gives an opportunity to develop and test learning materials. Most of the suggestions addressed knowledge required for increase safety and awareness of hazards at work, as well as human factors issues. These suggestions were aligned with a human factors program for ground operations.

  • Human factors: human factors were a topic of interest in all the phases of the study, including literature review, questionnaires, focus groups, and interviews. This subject has clear applications in maintenance and ground operations. It is worth concentrating on the production of human factor training materials which can unify our project and reach across subject areas and careers.

The project has focused its efforts of developing training materials in the area of human factors. It has produced and validated four courses and nine e-learning lessons, all available in English, French, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, and Spanish.

The analysis of skills needs was used to develop and/or adapt training curriculum, including the definition of learning outcomes along with assessment and validation activities. Training materials with multimedia resources have also been developed and assessed. Additionally, the project has adapted a popular organizational training evaluation framework, the Kirkpatrick’s four level model of training criteria, to the assessment of human factors multimedia training programs in aerospace engineering higher education. Pilot runs at 4 countries to test the learning materials. More than 150 attendees have participated in the assessment.

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Rosa Maria Arnaldo Valdés, Victor Fernando Gómez Comendador and Alvaro Rodriguez Sanz (November 29th 2017). Designing and Developing New VET Curricula to Address Skills Gaps in the Aeronautics Industry, Skills Development for Sustainable Manufacturing, Christianah Olakitan Ijagbemi and Harold Moody Campbell, IntechOpen, DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.70604. Available from:

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