Airways - Making your world possible

Fresh approach finds the ATC recruitment sweet spot


As leaders in the air traffic controller (ATC) recruitment space, SureSelect has undertaken exciting new research on how air navigation service providers (ANSPs) can improve their pre-screening processes to ensure they spend the most time with the candidates with the greatest chance of being successful. It’s a development that can help ANSPs to save thousands in their recruitment and training budget.

We recently worked with global talent management company CEB to conduct a validation study to examine the relationship between on the job ATC performance and specific cognitive abilities. The outcomes of this research demonstrated a close connection between job performance and cognitive ability in five of our online pre-screening tests of spatial reasoning, checking, verbal ability, inductive reasoning and a new generation test for general reasoning ability. 

These are insightful results that demonstrate just how important the use of online aptitude tests are as part of the pre-screening process. These online tests form a central part of our recruitment and selection process SureSelect, which is designed to correctly identify those candidates with the highest chances of training success during the early stages of the recruitment process. For us at Airways, our increased focus on the use of online aptitude tests as part of pre-screening is giving us more confidence and certainty in our ATC recruitment process than ever.

So with this research in mind, is it time to rethink your approach to ATC recruitment?  Let’s look at the business problem for ANSPs.

Overall, the industry spends around US$480 million on ATC training every year with around 30% of this investment, or US$143 million, being wasted on trainees who fail to qualify and rate as ATCs. The current attrition rate is 3.7% and if you add to this is the statistic that only 2-3% of the population are capable of rating as an ATC, ANSPs are facing an uphill battle to meet their needs.  The desired combination of aptitude and attributes is rare, hence the reason many of us involved in ATC selection are looking for that golden goose to help us improve our selection methodology.

Of the five online tests that the ATCs undertook as part of the study, spatial reasoning and general reasoning ability were the highest predictors of success on the job. This finding puts a new spin on the equation for us, as it allows us to use these tests up front in the selection process to cost effectively select people with the raw ability to do the job.  The results were also useful in validating the online testing format, in order for us to move away from the ‘old-fashioned’ paper-and-pencil based testing.  As a consequence, all of the testing we do for ourselves and for our clients is now done online, which provides a much more timely and cost effective result.

Ultimately, the increased focus on the psychometric integrity of pre-screening activities will result in higher success rates, lower recruitment costs and reduced training times, all of which we are looking forward to sharing with our SureSelect clients.  



Want to learn more about how Airways and SureSelect could help you lower recruitment costs and reduce training times? If so contact:

Tara Longley
SureSelect Delivery Manager
Airways New Zealand
Mobile: 0064 272289179