EMIRATES GROUP TAPS INTO AFRICAN HUMAN RESOURCE POOL LIKE FEW OTHERS
More and more Africans are looking abroad for employment these days, with opportunities, especially in the aviation sector, becoming easier to find by the day due to the expansion of the Gulf airlines. Substantially higher salaries, benefit packages and long term job security are luring young professionals away from their home countries for greener pastures in terms of career advances, living conditions and status they are suddenly turned into expatriates, able to live in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Qatar, places others go to for holidays and then stand in awe as they take in the sky lines, the range of hotels, resorts, restaurants and entertainment facilities one can find there.
A few months ago the main Gulf airlines held a job fair in the Seychelles, when it became known that Air Seychelles would downsize and make staff redundant, and similar programmes are being regularly rolled out in other parts of Africa, East Africa included.
Information received from Emirates indicates that the entire group now employs 5.530 Africans, in the air as pilots and cabin crew, on the ground as technicians, handling personnel, IT specialists and in many other positions, and only last week did Emirates announce it would require a further 4.500 staff within the next 12 months to keep pace with the ongoing delivery of their aircraft on order, a trend likely to continue for years to come. 4.500 staff from Africa that is, which would bring the African workforce to over 10.000, as a result of the positive experience Emirates HR department has with staff from African countries.
Kenyans, from amongst the East African countries, hold the lions share of jobs with 1.066 on the Emirates Group payroll, which is an impressive 19.27 percent, while 117 Tanzanians, 67 Ugandans, 67 Seychellois and at least 1 Rwandan too are part of one of the largest multinational workforces aviation has ever assembled.
Said an aviation source in Nairobi when confronted with these figures: Aviation is an international business. For us in Kenya it is a valuable lesson that our young professionals can now find work abroad in such numbers. It creates opportunities for young people but also for experienced staff, wanting to prepare a nest egg for their future retirement. But of course that is only one side of the coin. The downside is that our local airlines find it a real challenge to retain their best, and to train more and more personnel as they also expand. Kenya Airways now has to employ expatriate captains to make sure their new planes have crews to fly them. Smaller airline find it even harder because they are often not able to match terms and conditions of employment. So when the Gulf airlines announce a job fair or a recruitment drive in Nairobi or Mombasa, that is at once both good and also not so good. As a Kenyan I am proud that my fellow Kenyans have made such an impact abroad as professionals but as an airline man I am also worried about the impact on African aviation. We lose traffic share to the giants from the Gulf and also lose trained staff and we are struggling to keep pace.
African cabin crew spoken to at their crew hotel in Munyonyo / Kampala over a number of occasions though, on condition of anonymity, confirmed that we love our jobs as well as we made the right decision to apply for positions and are not looking back, affirming what many HR specialists have also said in recent months when asked to comment. One of them, from Nairobi, said: These are opportunities for our young people. Many find it difficult after university to find a job here at home, but they are keen to work. When they are offered small salary packages and benefits, what will keep them from finding work abroad when an chance comes knocking. What we have to do is to continue to provide good educational opportunities for our kids, in particular in the aviation field but also in IT, because when they show employers from abroad the level of skills they have, the languages for instance they speak fluently, they are just snapped up when those airlines come to town to recruit.
As the new Emirates campaign Hello Tomorrow is now rolling out across the media, here in East Africa but also across the continent of Africa, the airlines added message contained in the new slogan is also addressing those young aviation professionals who want to build their own tomorrow, with an employer ready to take them on board. So to my many young readers from the region, watch out for announcements in the local newspapers, because Emirates will be coming to town very soon to find their next generation of employees. Alternatively do visit http://www.emiratesgroupcareers.com/english/ for a full update on available positions and the requirements for applications.