Training the Next Generation

Fiona Greenyer is looking at the way in wich cabin crew training is evolving to engage the “net” generation.


Teaching methods have been developed to become more relevant to today’s ‘net’ generation.
Image credit: CAT of Sweden.

The majority of new entrants into cabin crew training are from the so-called ‘Generation Y’, defined as those born afrer 1982. These young people have grown up in an environment in which computers, the internet and virtual reality are the norm. They have different skills, are motivated by different issues and have different ways of learning from more traditiona “chalk and talk” methods. The aviation community is now developing new ways to recruit, educate, train and retain the next generation of aviation professionals.

Countless advancements have occurred in the evolution of training the next generation of cabin crew. From online pre-qualification training to interactive recurrent training, airlines have been looking for new ways to save money but also keep relevant to the way their students learn.

The advent and adoption of new ways of doing business have seen aviation professionals using a multitude of different devices as learning tools. The advantages of such devices are massive, however as Ivan Noel, president of Inflight pOinted out that if implemented incorrectly the results can be disastrous. If the developed content cannot be viewed by ali devices at any time, the litmus test of the learning system has failed.

Blended Learning

TFC believes that realistic hands-on training increases knowledge retention. Image credit: TFC Simulatoren und Technik GmbH. believes that a blended approach is paramount in teaching the ‘net’ generation of learners. This generation, and the ones that will follow it, has a ‘hyper-texting’ mindset, they are able to multi-task with various devices and have a need for instant gratification and knowledge. They love technology and want to use it A blend of seU-paced learning, classroom leaming and handson learning achieves the best results for the “net” generation of learners according to NoeL He believes that this fine balance between the technological and human elements are the biggest challenge to the successful delivery of onlinebased training.

German company TFC offers computer- based training to its cabin crew students, but are convinced that it is important to emphasise the human performance aspect of training as well. This means that the company has transferred the theoretical tralning from the classrooms into the cabin simulators where they create the most realistic training situation available.

Alongside the CBT, TFC has found that using !pe realistic practical training helps the flight attendants retain more information. Having experienced this kind of training, attendees leave the training session having gained the confidence to handle emergency situations, and furthermore, this integral training conveys team building. TFC has found that younger flight attendants feel more confident in using new technology for training, but in order to retain infonnation, the practical training has shown evident advantages.

Cabin Aviation Training of Sweaen AB was started in 2005, and since the beginning of 2011 has had approval from the Swedish Transport Agency for a sellsponsored Cabin Initial Safety Training course according to EU-OPS 1.1005. The course is two weeks long and covers subjects such as general aviation knowledge, first aid, service, crew resource management, fire and smoke training. water SUIvival and discipline and responsibilities. Ann-Charlott Strandberg, Head of Training at CAT of Sweden commented that the methods of teaching that they use have had to be updated and developed to be relevant to the students they are teaching today. The vast majority of CAT of Sweden’s students are aged between 21 and 35 years old, and old styles of teaching and learning are not an effective way to teach them new skills and knowledge. Strandberg noted that students used to be passive, sitting in a classroom looking at PowerPoint slides. They found that this was not an effective method of etching so they banned PowerPoint!

The internet is a powerful tool for learning, but Strandberg was careful to paint out that her instructors take the time to make the students aware of what is the best content to use from the internet. “This is the downside of the web” she said.

Noel also made this point. “We will release some of Dill video productions to YouTube for infonnation and promotion, however we never use YouTube as reference links within our programs. Airlines must be very cautious of including such uncontrollable means of media within their learning system.”
As instructors, Strandberg noted that they have to make time within a class for online searches which can be demanding for the instructors who have to be open minded about this way of learning, as they themselves are from a completely different generation.

In order to achieve the greatest saturation of knowledge, there must be a great focus on the end user.

Wolfgang Jabornik, Head of Training at Flight Attendant Safety Training GmbH told CA T his company has noticed three big changes in teaching the new generation of cabin crew. New studies prove that over half of new cabin crew entrants expect to leave their employer within two years, and 40% are expected to leave within one year. Leaming tools have to be adapted to the interests of this new generation of cabin crew. “Trial and error is the keyword of this generation that is used to playing computer games” he explained. “Their attention span is short, learning tools are consumed repeatedly and less intensively, more often and for a short period of time. They are used to the availability of information 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

FAST offers a pre-employment course which is 100% online and worth two days of an airline ground course. The company also offers an initial safety training course which consists of about 80% e-learning and the rest as practical training. The course takes 12 days to complete and covers the generic aspects of safety training. The advantages for airlines employing successful students from this course means that they have 12 less days of training to complete with their new crew. The ground course can be carried out at the students’ own pace and in their own time. They are not on the airline’s payroll for the time they complete the course, and for airlines recruiting these students it means that they have 12 days less of training to carry out with their new crew.

Airline View

Swedish airline Novair uses a combination of eleaming and practical training. Last autumn they examined 36 brand new cabin crew and the majority were 21 to 26 years old. Anna Mellberg Karlsson, chief cabin safety instructor at Novair said, “These new recruits were online most of the time with smartphones, iPads etc., but to our surprise they were not so eager to go online for course related issues.”

The airline recently got rid of all books in favour of putting the Cabin Crew Manual on the company information portal, but found that the students preferred the Manual in paper format “Luckily 40 copies were saved for train ing purposes!” said Karlsson.

“The only course we have as CBT today is Dangerous Goods training. We are looking into different courses in CBT to complement classroom training,” explained Karlsson. “We are planning for the crew to perform the tests online so we don’t have to take time for this during precious course time.” The challenge for Novair is to get the ‘oldies’, cabin crew aged 37 years and up, to get into and understand this new world of technology. However, course feedback revealed that the students wanted more practical training.

This type of training is constantly evolving, with social media becoming more widely used as a tool for communication. FAST uses Twitter as a means for students to ask questions, and CAT of Sweden uses Facebook to interact with their students. The ‘net’ generation requires a specific blend of learning styles and tools to achieve the best results for all parties involved.

Learn More For more information about this subject and other cabin crew training topicS, be sure to attend WATS 2012, 17-19 April, Orlando, USA