Future of airports dependent on a skilled, diverse workforce, experts agree

Capacity requirements bring new opportunities - and challenges - for infrastructure projects

Left to right – Blessing Danha, Tim Norwood, Wilma Allan, Darren Colderwood
Left to right – Blessing Danha, Tim Norwood, Wilma Allan, Darren Colderwood

Ensuring that employers have access to a diverse range of skills to meet workforce demand is crucial to the future of airports, specialists have argued.

The representatives from three key London airports - Gatwick, Heathrow and London City - spoke at the ICE London lecture Aviation update: In search of capacity on 1 April. The event was held at ICE’s headquarters at One Great George Street, as part of the 2019 Knowledge Programme.

Each speaker provided an update on their individual airport’s activities, with a focus on their plans for expansion and responding to capacity requirements as demand increases. The discussion highlighted some of the key challenges they face when delivering infrastructure projects, including the need to protect local communities from noise pollution, attracting sufficient investment for key projects, new trends in technology and the unpredictability of digital changes.

Tim Norwood, Director of Corporate Affairs, Planning and Sustainability spoke about Gatwick’s draft Master Plan and what it means for growth, whilst Wilma Allan, Chief Financial Officer, updated the audience on London City Airport’s £500 million Development Programme, which is currently underway whilst the airport remains fully operational. Darren Colderwood, Development Director, highlighted Heathrow’s four logistics hubs which aim to spread the benefits of expansion to communities throughout the country.

The event was chaired by Blessing Danha, Major Projects Advisory at KPMG UK.

A Q&A session following the presentations prompted further discussion on issues including the Project 13 methodology, how airports can attract more women and people from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds and the impact of the UK’s departure from the European Union.

Other topics touched on included the need for protection from security threats such as drone attacks and the importance of working closely with airlines to ensure that departure times are met.

ICE London will host its next lecture on Monday 16 September, following a summer break. Further information on how to register for this event will be published in due course.

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