Today, almost all ground handlers must have valid training according to their job description. The Internet can now bring learning to the workplace around the clock.
The modern global airline ground services sector must look to the upskilling of its workforce to improve efficiency and increase safety and security. A well-trained workforce also enjoys higher morale and lower staff turnover. Management looking to invest in training can find shift patterns disruptive to learning time while the need to travel to classrooms can take staff away from vital roles for many hours.
Pertti Mero, a former Finnair vice president, cargo sales and marketing executive has set up – with his co-founders with vast experience of e-learning and the aviation industry – Airport College International (AC), an online e-training scheme for global ground handling staff.
As CEO and founding partner of AC (airportcollege.com), Mero believes he can harness the opportunities offered by the Internet to provide the latest training to ground handling staff regardless of location or time zone.
AC is a strategic partner of the International Air Transport Association, IATA, which gives the Helsinki-based operation a unique insight into airlines’ and the wider industry’s priorities.
Mero says: “On-line training resources are available 24/7/365 and offer significant flexibility in terms of time and space. There’s a perfectionist inside each of us and no one likes to fail in a classroom full of other people. Real learning requires some failure and with e-learning you can always start over, again and again.
“A great approach is a well-designed e-learning course which offers rich learning experience that is rehearsable at any time. It supports different learning styles with visuals, audio narration and exercises.”
AC courses comply with international regulations as well as those established by governing authorities, such as ICAO and IATA. It is also an accredited training centre for ICAO/FIATA Dangerous Goods by Air training courses. Helsinki’s Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences partners AC in the field of airport management and leadership.
Mero says: “For ground handling agents and airlines we have a full package of ready-to-use e-learning training courses and training portal with administration (training records and course certificates) according to the IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations (ISAGO).
“We demonstrate with a real customer case study how a ground handling agent can fulfil training standards, obtain the ISAGO certificate and, at the same time, save money and time.”
On-line training is used globally and even for some remote areas could be the best and most convenient way to provide training, considers Mero. “Our clients use PCs and less often, tablets. Smartphones are not yet widely used for professional aviation training.”
A study by Britain’s Open University found that producing and providing e-learning courses consumes an average of 90% less energy and produces 85% fewer CO2 emissions per student than conventional face-to-face courses, notes Mero.
The company uses a cloud-based Learning Management System (LMS) to deliver flexibility and massive cost savings to this highly regulated training field with AC’s internationally recognised regulatory compliant multimedia training modules, says Mero.
“We provide theory, hands-on and on-the-job training in the work place. We provide support material for on-the-job trainers whenever this is needed. Using LMS allows immediate deployment of a cloud-based e-learning service; can be scaled up to meet increased demand; does not require hardware to configure or maintain; operates on a reliable, secure and scalable platform; is available 24/7 with full support; and provides automatic certificate issuance after a student has passed the course.”
Mero says that clients can “start overnight” with the training without massive investments.
The company provides a specific cargo handling e-learning training course, ramp handling e-learning training course and a human factors e-learning training course.
AC currently has a small, core organisation of five and works closely with partners such as specialist subject matter experts, an external media team and a general sales network.
Mero has his sights on growing markets and has identified opportunities for expansion. He says: “The future growth is in Asia. We have experience of working and dealing with Asian cultures and business environments; that’s why we selected Asia to be first on our task list. We have clients also in Europe and some clients use our courses for their global operations.”
He has identified two future growth trend highlights:
• By 2034 the five fastest-increasing markets in terms of additional passengers per year will be China (856 million new passengers), the US (559 million), India (266 million), Indonesia (183 million) and Brazil (170 million).
• Routes to, from and within Asia-Pacific will see an extra 1.8 billion annual passengers by 2034, for an overall market size of 2.9 billion. In relative terms Asia-Pacific will increase its size compared to other regions to 42% of global passenger traffic, and its annual average growth rate, 4.9%, will be the joint-highest with the Middle East.