BALPA held a second nextGen networking event at the beginning of June and I was there to witness just how the nextGen programme works and meet those involved.
A number of pilots - experienced and trainee cadets - along with BALPA HQ staff all met on the 10th of June at the Highwayman hotel, just a short stroll from Oxford Aviation Academy.
As a current Oxford student coming towards the end of my training, it has always been invaluable to meet and chat to pilots who have studied, finished and are now employed within the industry. I was hoping to learn more about that all important end of training job, life outside work, the career challenges and rewards. It was fascinating to have access to such a wealth of experience.
The informal evening offered the opportunity to meet pilots from easyJet and Ryanair to find out more about BALPA, how its elected pilot representatives and HQ staff are supporting pilots worldwide, but also how they plan to protect the future of the profession by engaging with the next generation of pilots.
A great turn out from the Oxford students meant that everybody had the chance to openly discuss and ask any burning questions. What was immediately clear was the hard work and passion that all pilots had displayed to get to where they are today; it really does take a lot of desire and determination to realise the ambition of becoming an airline pilot.
There was also the continued interest in training and a belief that we, the nextGen pilots of the future, need to be well educated on both the pros and cons of the career ahead.
The honest advice from BALPA representatives was refreshing and the majority of cadets went away feeling inspired, motivated and refuelled for the next stages of their training programme.
The BALPA team spoke about the nextGen programme and the offers that come with free membership while pilots undertake their training. This new level of membership already offers a mentoring scheme, protection of new entrant contracts and permanent employment, along with lobbying policymakers and providing honest advice and support to those thinking about becoming a pilot.
It was also really interesting to hear the objectives for the future of the programme, including the possibility of VAT returns on flight training costs, website changes, new member benefits and widening the scheme to other flight schools such as CTC, FTEJerez and Bristol Ground School.
It is clear that BALPA’s aim is to fully support new pilots through the nextGen programme and the offer of these rare opportunities to meet experienced BALPA pilots is just one small part of a wider campaign. My colleagues and I hope this level of contact continues and matures into an even greater supported industry network of individuals and organisations.
What really matters though is the future of the profession and BALPA’s work is always underpinned by a pool of over 250 pilot representatives. The work ahead for the nextGen programme can only be driven by those pilots and trainees within the industry. The future of the profession needs pilots to get involved and, with the support of BALPA staff, we can all help new, younger and future pilots with the existing and expected challenges they will face in their career.