Roger Beebe 0000-00-00 00:00:00
The challenge of obtaining management skills for Canadian aviation technicians and AMEs Back in the day, I used to wonder why RCAF technicians were promoted from technical ranks to supervisory and leadership positions with no apparent extra training. One day you were tech and the next, a corporal with a crew. Some of those who were promoted adapted well and were good leaders, while others never did learn any method beyond shouting. Later, working in civilian aviation, I noticed the same thing: good tech one day, supervisor the next. Perhaps it was possible because regulatory and legal burdens were simpler in those days. For example, there were no Occupational Health and Safety regulations and the (seemingly) thousands of Transport Canada rules were still in the future, as was the oversight group checking everything one did. Hiring and firing were simpler and quicker, as there was not so much labour legislation as today. Current Situation It was apparent by the 1970s that leading and managing main tenance crews and operations took more than just being tech nically competent. The increasing complexity of aircraft sys tems required more formal education. Regulatory and legal require ments demanded more writing and communication skills. Some people seem to have innate leadership skills but most of us need additional training about how human beings are motivated and learn. The increasing demands by Transport Canada for manuals, programs and documentation added to the need for more formal training in management systems, and the proliferation of safety and labour law compounded those demands. Not to be forgotten is the economic impact of maintenance technicians being responsible for increasingly costly machines and components, as well as for hangars and support equipment. A maintenance manager’s faulty decision could be very expensive and possibly crippling to an organization. Maintenance costs can greatly affect profitability and company survival. Many of us in the industry and at Transport Canada saw the need for formal supervisory and management training. In my own case, my early years in regulatory auditing showed me that it was a great need. I observed that most company leaders were technically very good but missed the mark on creating and adhering to management systems, therefore falling afoul of the regulator. This fact became widely known and understood in the industry and steps were taken to rectify it by providing more management and supervisor training. AME associations introduced annual seminars that, in part, addressed the issue. Industry associations also became involved, as did CCAA (then CAMC). Community colleges began to provide courses addressing such management issues as leadership, super visory skills, workplace safety law, finance for nonfinancial people, humanresource skills, and so on. Future The changes needed in our industry are now well under way. Transport Canada has changed its entry hiring standards to put more emphasis on managerial experience for its safety inspectors. To become a Director of Maintenance or a Person Responsible for Maintenance today, one must have management training and experience. The industry and the regulator both acknowledge the need for more leadership and managerial skills. Progress is slow but steady, and it will be interesting to see how the Canadian aviation industry evolves over the next ten years. Look for much more to be required in the way of formal education and training for what used to be “a good tech job” and a simple way to be rewarded and paid. I believe that in the future, it will be management skills that let you ascend the career ladder, backed by your technical skills.
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