Training to “right-skill” aviation workforce is essential before the restart in air travel after the Covid-19 pandemic triggered sweeping layoffs in the industry, said the International Air Transport Association (IATA). As furloughed staff members rejoin the workforce and new hires are appointed, airlines need to train their employees on all safety aspects before the recovery in air travel demand, given the highly regulated nature of the industry, Frederic Leger, Interim Senior Vice President of Commercial Products and Services at IATA, said during an online press event. Right-skilling existing workers and ensuring that new hires from outside aviation can quickly acquire the necessary skills will be key to successfully building the post-pandemic workforce, IATA said, citing a global survey of some 800 human resources (HR) managers in the aviation industry. Before the pandemic, IATA offered training courses to 100,000 aviation professionals annually. The coronavirus pandemic hit the aviation industry hard, forcing airlines around the world to preserve cash and cut costs by grounding aircraft and laying off or furloughing employees. In the HR managers survey, 70 percent of respondents said they have lost their training budget entirely or have had to halve it. Training is in limbo, with 11 percent currently not providing any skills development while 36 percent have embraced self-study solutions. The most critical areas for training aviation professionals in future will centre on safety, security, operations and economics, the survey showed. Of the HR managers surveyed, 85 percent said that online learning will be central for skills development in the future. During the pandemic, IATA leveraged digital learning options in some of its initiatives to support aviation workers during the crisis. It offered a special online training course for former cabin crew to help them identify their skills and professional strengths to transition to other industries. It also offered online classroom training for temperature-controlled cargo operations for transporting Covid-19 vaccines, Iata said. As aviation rebuilds, topics such as sustainability and digitalisation will gain in importance when retraining workers, the agency stated.