How to pursue a career in aviation

Image: 123RF/Michael Turner.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has expressed concern that people from previously disadvantaged backgrounds are still a minority in the aviation sector. 

Addressing the National Aviation Conference recently, the Minister noted that statistics for the 2020/21 financial year showed little progress in transformation in the aviation sector. 

He said Africans, coloureds and Indians represent 11% of licence holders, while white licence holders are much higher at 89%. 

"This scenario needs to change. The statistics must reflect the racial demographics of the country. 

“We must agree on transformation targets and introduce innovative measures to create access for young people who come from previously disadvantaged communities,” said the Minister.

With a shortage of aviation skills in South Africa and across the world, there is a great need for young people to enter the industry.

“In our case, we have seen many of our well-trained and experienced aviators being lured away from South Africa to jobs and opportunities in countries that are offering much better remuneration,” he said.

Pursuing a career in aviation does not necessarily mean becoming a pilot.

According to the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA), aviation is a vast field which includes careers in piloting, various trades in engineering and mechanics, airport operations and the manufacturing of aircraft.

Due to the technical nature of most of the jobs, those with a strong background in mathematics, physical science and engineering can excel in the industry.

“Although the majority of opportunities require a foundation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics-related subjects, one can still launch a successful career in aviation, such as in aviation law, aviation safety and security and environmental management,” it says.

SACAA offers bursaries to future aviators in the areas of piloting, aeronautical engineering and maintenance engineering.

For more information on SACAA bursaries, visit www.caa.co.za or email: bursaryapplications@caa.co.za

You can also follow SACAA’s social media pages for updates on when bursary applications open.

-This article was originally published in the GCIS Vuk'uzenzele.