While airport terminals remain quiet because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) health pandemic, airports remain open and operational as essential and critical infrastructure. Airports might not be welcoming as many passengers these days, but they are still serving local communities by facilitating the movement of health care workers and life saving medical supplies. Airports also play an increasingly important role in the food supply chain to keep grocery shelves stocked for families.
This vital work is only made possible through the hard work and resolve of essential frontline airport workers. We applaud their dedication to their communities. These are the kinds of jobs that can’t be don’t from home.
Because airports continue to operate – and will once again become thriving hubs of activity when travel resumes – they can’t miss a beat in having the right workers in place at the right time. But how are airports recruiting new workers in an era of social distancing?
Thanks to a proactive approach by the human resources department at Houston Airports System (HAS) to use technology in a creative way, the airport continues its work with Edge4Vets to help military veterans prepare for a career at the airport. Edge4Vets, a program of the Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham University in New York and supported by Airports Council International – North America and University Aviation Association, is a powerful jobs training program to prepare and connect veterans to jobs that can lead to careers in aviation.
As part of their continuing recruiting process, HAS had planned to offer another in-person workshop training program on April 2 to military veterans. 40 veterans, including Aaron Unpingco, had registered to participate in the workshop. Through their participation, the veterans would have received personal support from business mentors to identify their strengths from the military, including values and skills, and explore ways to match their skills and interests to airport job openings with HAS and employer partners, including airlines, concessions, security and more.
Once social distancing became the norm because of COVID-19, HAS opted to reconsider its approach and chose to offer the Edge4Vets workshop as an online program instead of cancelling it. This preserved momentum the program had generated over the past three years to promote veteran employment and keep the pipeline for training military veterans for airport jobs moving forward until better days can come.
Edge4Vets had recently completed putting its full training curriculum into an online platform as a complement to its popular workshop series. The online course gives veterans an opportunity to work through the process to translate their military skills into civilian life at their own pace and learn through a series of videos and exercises how to create a four-part PLAN4SUCCESS for an edge with HR recruiters to get hired.
“Aaron Unpingco had great experience as a platoon leader in the army,” said Tom Murphy, founder of Edge4Vets. “The PLAN4SUCCESS he created using our online training not only showed his strong management skills but also demonstrated how his experience in IT and business administration qualified him for an administrative role at the airport. The HAS recruitment team recognized his potential immediately and suggested several jobs that could fit him.”
To help him match his skills and interests to potential jobs, Edge4Vets enlisted Goodwill industries of Houston to provide follow up support to vets who take the online course. Edge4Vets refers participants to Goodwill after they complete the course and helps them identify potential jobs not only with the airport authority, but with airlines and service companies that participate as program partners.
Other airports participating with ACI-NA and local veterans groups in their communities in the Edge4Vets program are looking at applying Houston Airports System’s leadership approach with the online model to their airports.
“I want to be ready,” Unpingco said. “I don’t want to lose this down time during this virus crisis. I want to prepare for a job that can open the world for me.”