To realize its vision to be a company of choice for both employees and customers, Çelebi Aviation Academy revised its training across all its sites. IATA Certification helped it create alignment to ensure consistently high-quality training.
Established in 1958, Çelebi Aviation Holding is an integrated ground handling services company, operating more than 40 stations, in 5 countries, on 3 continents. Çelebi Aviation Academy equips all levels of the company’s 10,000+ employees with the skills to perform their tasks, while meeting the expectations of a highly regulated industry. It acts as both a “Center of Excellence” and a “Governing Body” of all training across the company.
With the projected growth in air transport over the next 20 years, particularly in global passenger numbers, it was clear to us at Çelebi Aviation that the industry would be faced with many challenges in order to meet future demand. One of the most important is attracting, developing, and retaining appropriately skilled staff, and training plays a key role in this. Çelebi Aviation Academy exists, therefore, to not only give our employees the skills to become experts in their job, but also to empower them to grow. To ensure the same professional development for all our employees, wherever they are, we started investing more in our training some time ago, setting the same high standards throughout the company.
The quality of our training also impacts the quality of our service, and we chose to focus first on passenger handling. Travelers’ first point of contact is the Passenger Services department, and how they perceive their experience consequently affects the airport’s and airline’s brands. It is therefore a key service we offer our customers. Our passenger handling training is completed by an average of 6,800 people every year, and it enables them to manage people, processes, and time; to have the right attitude and behavior; to solve problems and deal with difficult situations.
Over the course of about three months, our people reviewed our existing training tools and systems. We identified digital options we could integrate into our current systems, and we revisited our existing training modules at all our sites to ensure they were standardized, developing new ones where necessary. We were confident that our learning processes were of high quality, but to be a true center of excellence, we needed external recognition.
We learned about the IATA Training validation and certification program at the IATA Global Training Conference. As it recognizes excellence in the practice of training, and compliance with international and industry training standards, it was perfect for our needs. Accreditation of our training programs through IATA Certification would attest to their quality, and effectively demonstrate to employees our commitment to their professional development, as well as show local civil aviation authorities and our valued customers that our employees are highly competent.
The validation process, which takes two to three months, is comprehensive but simple. The IATA team helped us prepare for their actual evaluation with a self-assessment of where we stand: we were very happy to find we already met the vast majority of the checklist items with our passenger handling training. Independent assessors then carried out the certification assessment, which was a great learning opportunity for our Academy team. The assessors were transparent in their approach, sensitive to our way of doing business, and encouraging in their feedback, sharing best practices and their own expertise. It was a very meaningful experience.
As a result of the assessment, we made changes to the parameters of our passenger handling training program, such as the learning objectives, the training content, the references and training materials, to better standardize the information. We also improved the learning methodology and approach, adding training lesson plans and overviews, case studies, ‘now it’s your turn’ exercises, and ‘what we learned’ training summaries; and developing our exam templates.
As the first ground handler to be recognized as an official Center of Excellence in Training and Development, and to have its passenger handling training certified as meeting international training standards and air transport regulations, we are breaking new ground. These IATA certifications assure employees, both existing and new to the company, that any training we give them is of the highest quality, wherever they are in the world, and that by taking our passenger handling training, they will become skilled in passenger services. Additionally, almost at the same time we started the certification process, we began to measure our ‘ROI of Training’: assessing employee satisfaction; evaluating progress by comparing pre-training and post-training test results; using a checklist to observe employee behavioral changes; determining business impact through quality reports and customer satisfaction reports; and calculating the financial impact gained from business impact. From these KPIs, we have seen that employee satisfaction with the new passenger handling training increased by 2%, and that learning success, as measured by the pre- and post-training tests, went up 19%.
The certifications also give us greater confidence as a company when we communicate and work with authorities and customers. While it is hard to assess the commercial impact of this certification, since we are still experiencing the challenges of the pandemic, we are seeing that customers view it favorably, and we believe it will give us a competitive edge for the future. We have received positive feedback that Çelebi is maintaining its quality and leadership in the sector, and a number of partners were very interested in the IATA Certification itself. Additionally, our 2021 customer survey showed higher satisfaction overall.
The actual certification process helped all the local Çelebi Aviation Academy training teams to come to the same level of understanding regarding our training approach, and to learn to speak the same language. And this is essential to ensure uniformity of training delivery across locations, and sustained standardization of our systems, programs and processes. We can now build on this solid foundation to stay at the forefront of quality service provision, and we therefore went ahead and had cargo handling training certified at the end of 2021.
Our aim here was to ensure updated understanding of the nuances of air cargo logistics, so our staff consistently deliver quality customized services, and we remain a preferred global solutions partner. The IATA Certification process assisted us in several ways in making our training process, procedure, and content more robust, comprehensive and reflective of industry best practices. After assessment, we were able to better standardize the form and format of our training, such as by only using action verbs whose outcome can be measured, and changing dates to an international format. We were also able to update the content regarding rates and charges, and be sure our cargo training coverage and approach was comprehensive.
The next step in our journey will be certifying our ramp training. In the meantime, we are demonstrating our continued commitment to the highest quality training by ensuring our certifications as a Center of Excellence, and for passenger handling training remain valid, through a recertification process.