Before getting started, I’d like to offer some advice to those already on the job market, or considering placing yourself on the market, or if your firm is in discreet discussions with an applicant: Obtain your training records from your previous or existing employer. It’s always a good idea to have copies of your training records, but more so in the dynamic employment market we find ourselves in today, especially since your furlough may come unannounced. My clients frequently hire ‘experienced’ employees and ask can the employee be waivered from qualifications or training requirements? The answer is yes, but most easily facilitated if the training or qualification you seek to waiver is demonstrably documented from the previous employer or other records. Also consider that:
- Your training records are a useful addendum or cross check to claimed items on your CV/Resume
- When opportunities for promotion come up, your training records should complement your experience and qualifications portfolio.
Now onto our stated subject matter.
As if the current labor shortage was not enough, consider this excerpt from the Boeing Pilot and Technician Outlook 2021-20401:
“Long-term demand for newly qualified aviation personnel remains strong, as 612,000 new pilots, 626,000 new maintenance technicians and 886,000 new cabin crew members are needed to fly and maintain the global commercial fleet over the next 20 years.”
This likely portends continuing, future challenging labor requirements across the entire aviation sector, but what about now?
The topics to be discussed include the following:
- Use of headhunters
- Use of consultants
- Use of workers and from other countries
- Use persons outside of aviation
- Non-traditional labor sources
- Ab Initio and Apprenticeship Programs
USE OF HEADHUNTERS
- Of course, the term ‘headhunters’ is informal slang for persons who likely prefer to refer to themselves as Recruiters. My very first client was for a staffing/recruiting firm who was contracted by the hiring entity to help fill positions for a huge aerospace defense contract. You’ll want to use Recruiters under the following circumstances or reasons:
- You simply don’t have the time to sort through the mountains of resumes which those automated online services provide.
- The position(s) you’re seeking to fill are highly specialized.
- After much activity, you’re existing internal efforts to fill the position(s) are simply not paying off.
- When the market is dry and those online automated services are simply not producing desirable results, I observed that perhaps the greatest asset of a recruiter is their ability to reach candidates who are not on the market. These are persons who are currently employed and not entertaining entering the job market, called ‘passive candidates.’ Interestingly, while working for the Recruiter, every time I discreetly reached out to someone currently employed, universally they all said the same thing “I’m not looking for another job, but out of curiosity, tell me the details”. Recruiters excel at this, and it’s frequently the source of hard-to-find talent. Recruiters pay to have special tools and trained staff to find these candidates, and confidentiality is ingrained.
- You have to staff-up quickly and/or with a large number.
- The Recruiter likely already has a pool of candidates they can tap into.
- Perhaps the neatest attribute of working with most Recruiters is that you pay nothing until you hire for the position!
Before reaching out to a recruiter make sure to have an up to date and accurate job description.
If you’re ever considering using candidates from other countries (see below), Recruiters typically have HR expertise in this area.
USE OF CONSULTANTS
In a shameless plug for persons like myself, consider the use of consultants under the following circumstances or for the following reasons:
- You need a critical position filled for a short period; a stand-in person. This would typically be an “Acting” position until you make your final decision.
- You have a big project that will take some time and effort, but at the conclusion of the project, not require the services of the persons involved.
USE OF WORKERS FROM OTHER COUNTRIES
One of my clients just hired a person from the middle east to fill a Chief Inspector position in the USA. I’ve worked with this person, and everyone seems delighted with his fit and performance. The pros and cons:
- Pro- The aviation industry is global. Customers notice when you have a diversified, multilingual staff. Having a diversified staff brings a new dimension to your corporate culture.
- Pro- Your country may be completely dry as far as finding candidates to fill any number of positions, but qualified candidates from other countries may be readily available.
- Con- To get the person into your country requires some effort generally referred to as “Sponsorship”. Depending on the country you’re based in, this is typically a long process, with lots of bureaucratic procedures. Your first sponsorship is most tedious, but thereafter you’ll know the process so it should get easier.
Disheartening postings I see frequently on Linked In, is where a firm is hiring for desirable positions but posts “Sponsorships not available”. Also, when a company is posting for desirable positions, but neglects to post “Sponsorships not available”, and many out-of-country candidates respond with hopeful submissions, only to be turned down.
Don’t be afraid, even if you’re a small sized firm. Persons I have interviewed for this article strongly recommended using the services of an immigration attorney, as they have themselves. In the USA the most common visa used for these purposes is the H-1B. By the way, at the end of this article I have posted an Appendix as a primer on the process.
USE OF INTERNS
By ‘Interns’ I mean students at local universities, colleges, or technical schools. Typically, they are used for short engagements, and likely on a part time basis. I’m particularly keen on this option since I have had mostly productive outcomes with these students. There are advantages for both sides:
- Most of these students are anxious to pad their newly developing resumes/CVs with relevant experience they will gain while in your employ; they are motivated to impress you, and likely to be good performers.
- You can use them for short-term projects; “I just accepted a 15,000 line item consignment, and need this carefully loaded to my ERP system…”
- You get the opportunity to vet possible future employees. Many employers end up making permanent job offers to high performing interns.
Persons I interviewed for this article strongly recommended using an online service called Handshake for the purposes of reaching out to local institutions for interns:
Nothing however can beat calls to your local education outlets for interns. Ask for HR or Recruiting. This is best for technical colleges where you may be seeking technicians for your repair station/AMO, for example.
By the way, just some ‘Royboy’ counsel: I’ve seen too often that interns are given a dark corner and menial tasks and appear discouragingly disconnected from the mainstream activities of the firm. Include them on some of your meetings, ask them for their recommendations, take them out to lunch, and challenge them with interesting tasks; you may be surprised at the results.
USE OF PERSONS OUTSIDE OF AVIATION
We are fortunate in the aviation industry that so many people look at aircraft longingly and romantically and are fascinated by all things involving flight. In fact, most of us in aviation probably exhibited these same characteristics before joining the work force. For those reasons it’s not a bad idea to leverage that interest and take a risk on hiring persons outside of aviation to fill your positions. Consider:
- A medical electronics technician will probably do a good job working on your avionics parts.
- A person with documented sales skills in marketing construction materials will likely do a similarly good job in marketing your aviation products.
- An Inspector performing NDT/NDI tests on ships will likely do a good job in your repair station/AMO performing similar inspections.
Before doing this, give some consideration to your onboarding process. Minimally, create a carefully thought-out listing of all the major tasks and duties associated with performing the job. Then assign staff to systematically impart the training for each listed task.
NON-TRADITIONAL LABOR SOURCES
A current trend in the corporate world is to be conscientious of your firm’s ESG profile. Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria are a set of standards for a company’s operations which socially conscious investors use to screen potential investments. Environmental criteria consider how a company performs as a steward of nature. Social criteria examine how it manages relationships with employees, suppliers, customers, and the communities where it operates. Governance deals with a company’s leadership, executive pay, audits, internal controls, and shareholder rights.
For this article I really want to focus on the “S” of ESG, particularly your relations with your community. Do you really want to make a difference for a mutually beneficial outcome? Consider using people who have paid their debt to society and are transitioning from incarceration back to mainstream life. Usually when this suggestion is mentioned it’s followed by a long pregnant pause, and understandably so. Ask yourself these questions:
Q: In instances where there has been theft in your company, was it perpetrated by a former prison inmate?
Q: In instances where you have had to let go of employees for not showing up to work on time, or being chronically absent, were they former prison inmates?
Q: That time you had to let that employee go due to poor performance, despite your best counseling and training efforts; where they former prison inmates?
The point being that you’re already taking risks for anyone you hire. As with hiring persons from other countries, this course of action will require some effort. Persons I spoke with who work with transitioning inmates suggested the following:
- In the US, if this is your first time, try reaching out to the closest Federal Prison. My contact told me that they typically have more resources for the inmates which may facilitate your initial effort. Ask for the Counselors and/or Chaplains.
- Start a google search by entering ‘reentry programs’ to see a broader offering of possible sources.
- Using Temp Agencies for these types of workers may be convenient for you but is always a bad experience for the worker. This is only because the temp agency of course must recover their costs and make a profit, which is usually at the expense of the fee being paid to the worker, which is a fraction of what you’d pay them directly.
- ‘Royboy’ counsel: Both my contacts I spoke with stated that initially, transportation for such persons is a big factor. If your candidate lives in the city and your operation is out in the suburbs that’s going to be a challenge for them until they get back on their feet. Work it out.
A friend in the community who is a CEO for an aviation firm has hired such workers. One of those is now a VP in another company over several locations; a former felon who was given a chance.
Many of you hardly need any encouragement to follow this course of action. Yet others of you do not have this as a goal in your HR hiring plans. For those in the latter group, consider the following:
- Many vets have security clearances; they’ve already been thoroughly vetted.
- They come from drug free workplaces and are already randomly tested.
- Their existing career fields may be a perfect fit for your operation.
- They already have basic, deeply engrained habits such as supporting the team, showing up on time, and doing what it takes to achieve the goal.
When we say ‘Veterans’, we really mean two categories of former military members:
- Those who are already in the civilian workforce.
- Those who are transitioning from active duty.
For those already in the civilian work force, they’re likely to be treated as anyone else on the job market. If you have it in your ESG plan to hire vets, then when resumes/CVs come across your desk, consider giving grading points for vets, especially those already in the work force. This is particularly helpful since candidates who are already in the civilian work force often get their veteran status overlooked.
Being able to hire veterans just transitioning out of active duty presents a unique opportunity to tap into a valuable resource. Consider that just in the USA, 200.000 transition out of the military each year3. There is a plethora of online services to facilitate your search. A good place to start is with RecruitMilitary3.
AB INITIO AND APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAMS
Ab inito, meaning from the beginning, is an industry term that describes airline-oriented flight training programs that take you from zero experience through commercial pilot. Many airlines use this model to train their candidates from scratch. This is typically facilitated by an employment agreement to work for the airline for a stated period and to pay back the investment in training. Note that this pilot training takes minimally 2 years.
There are some career fields so difficult to find qualified candidates, that this becomes an attractive alternative. Ab initio implies that someone else is doing the training which you are underwriting.
An example might be that your MRO needs welders which are in short supply. Why not send someone you’ve already vetted and interviewed, or perhaps an existing employee to school on your dime, under an employment contract as previously suggested? More ‘Royboy’ counsel: When doing so, consider that the person needs to make a living while in school! Pay them something reasonable so they can pay their bills.
Other more in-depth programs will likely develop, such as Ab Initio for Technicians as Deutsche is doing4.
Apprenticeship programs are another emerging pattern to ‘home grow’ your hard-to-find skilled employees and is an inhouse alternative to Ab Initio. Lufthansa Technik has several such programs with over 650 enrolled5.
Over ‘n out
Roy ‘Royboy’ Resto
AIM Solutions Consulting/FAA-DAR
APPENDIX: Sponsoring a foreign national: What you should know2
What common types of visas are there?
Visa categories cover a broad range of non-immigrant or temporary visas depending on the specific kind of work, but some of the most common are:
1) H-1B – Non-immigrant, employment-based visa for temporary workers
Duration: Starts off for up to three years but can be extended for an additional three years with the option to extend to temporary status if the company is willing to sponsor the employee’s citizenship.
2) J-1 – For researchers, scholars or student/exchange visitors
Duration: There are different types of J1 visas. The duration of each depends on the program. The work performed must be part of the participants approved program.
For example, a short-term scholar program may be granted six months, while a professor or research scholar may have a duration of five years.
3) F-1 – For students
Duration: The work visa will depend on form I-94 and I-20.
Grants permission to work part time on campus (20 hours or less per week) and are eligible to apply for off-campus employment – OPT (see below) – in their field of study.
4) OPT – Optional practical training is temporary employment directly related to a F-1 student’s area of study
Pre-completion OPT is limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session. Post-completion OPT students may work full time.
Duration: Per authorization documents
Typically these are for students in certain science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, who may apply for a 24-month extension of OPT employment authorization following graduation if they meet certain conditions.
5) CPT – Curricular practical training or temporary authorized training
Duration: As directed by program and authorization documents
CPT is very similar to OPT, except CPT work can be either full-time or part-time, and a signed cooperative agreement or a letter from the employer is required.
OPT and CPT can later be transferred by the employer if the employer wants to sponsor these visa holders for H-1B visas.
6) H-4 – For the spouse or dependents of an H-1B visa holder
Duration: Generally, H-4 visas expire automatically if the associated H-1B expires or is not renewed.
H-4 visa holders may work full time if the associated H-1B is valid.
7) L-1 – Transfer of a foreign employee to work in an U.S. office of the same employer. For those in management, executive or specialized knowledge positions.
Duration: Starts off for three years and can be extendable to a maximum of five years
L-1 visa holders cannot transfer to another employer. If they resign or get fired, they must leave the country. If employed in a managerial or executive position for one continuous year in the preceding three years (in the U.S. or outside the U.S.), you can apply for green card in EB1C category immediately.
How do I sponsor a foreign national?
Follow these seven steps to successfully identify, recruit, vet and sponsor a non-U.S. citizen:
1. Determine what position the hire will fill
The type of job will have a bearing on how much red tape is involved and the type of visa required by the employee.
First, decide what roles within the company you will fill with foreign nationals. While there are dozens of possible fields, the majority of visas are granted to applicants within six specific disciplines.
Recent yearly data by the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) shows most of the approved H1-B petitions went to computer-related occupations by a more than 4-to-1 margin over the next highest occupations of architecture, engineering and surveying, education, administration and medicine/health.
2. Conduct recruiting process, background checks and verification of documentation
Determine the proper immigration visa program (H-1B, L-1, etc.) for your recruiting needs. The most important question: Will the employee become a permanent resident or is this a temporary hire?
Conduct the same rigorous recruiting process used to identify qualified domestic candidates. Allot additional time for your international recruitment efforts, as it may take longer to verify foreign college degrees and other documentation. This verification process can take weeks to months, depending on the country.
An H-1B visa is the most common, often called a U.S. work visa. These are granted to eligible temporary workers with employer sponsorship. H-1B visa sponsorship cannot be offered until the candidate’s background check is complete.
U.S. companies may hire any foreign national as long as they are already in the country and are eligible and authorized to work in the United States. Federal law requires all employees complete an I-9 form for legal identification. All foreign hires must also have a valid work visa from the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services.
3. Apply for a work visa
Consult an immigration attorney.
H-1B visas are very popular because they allow the holder to live and work in the U.S. while seeking permanent resident status. Historically, the quota has been filled quickly.
4. Obtain Department of Labor certification
Before formally applying for a candidate’s visa with the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS), your next step is obtaining a certification from the US Department of Labor.
This is a complex process. In a nutshell, requesting certification means that the employer has made the case to the Dept. of Labor that all efforts to recruit a U.S. worker for the position have been exhausted and that the identified candidate meets the skills and qualifications required for the role.
The certification required will depend on the type of business, but typically takes eight to 12 weeks. Contact USCIS to verify which certification will suit your needs.
Part of this step is the submission of a Labor Condition Applications by the employer to the Department of Labor via Form 9035. The LCA details the conditions employers must meet in the process.
5. Comply with insurance requirements
Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, there have been significant changes to the health care industry and some of those changes affect H-1B visa holders.
Foreign nationals are not obligated to maintain coverage, but once they become a “resident alien,” as defined by federal laws, H1-B visa holders are subject to ACA laws.
Insurance obligations are the responsibility of the employee, but companies may assist in the process or offer company insurance.
6. Meet salary and benefit requirements
The salary for an H-1B employee cannot be less than the typical wage for the position or occupation. The employee must be given the same benefits as other employees in a similar position at the company.
The employer, not the employee, is responsible for all costs associated with filing the application for an H-1B petition. The employer may not charge these costs to the employee or seek reimbursement from the employee.
While some of the fees for H-1B applications are standard, such as the basic filing fee ($460) and fraud prevention and detection fee ($500), others are based on how many workers the filing company employs and can vary from hundreds to several thousand dollars. Typically, the cost to an employer will run between $2,500 and $7,000.
7. Cross your fingers
The processing time for H-1B visas varies.