Emirates Aviation University
Emirates Aviation University students enjoy a 85 per cent employability once they graduate, said Dr Ali. Image Credit: Emirates Aviation University

Dubai: As UAE and regional airports, and airlines, gear up for their next growth phase, the demand for jobs in aviation are clearly set to soar with a surge seen aviation university course applicants this year.

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Emirates Aviation University (EAU) – part of Emirates Group – is expecting a 15-20 per cent increase in its enrolment numbers this year as more school graduates look at the aviation industry as a viable career option, said Prof. Dr. Ahmad Al Ali, EAU’s Vice-Chancellor told reporters during a media briefing.

Dr. Ali stated that the university has received 3,000 applications for its undergraduate and postgraduate programs for the 2024-2025 academic year. This surge is partly driven by thr relentless demand for air travel and the need to address the global labour shortage in the sector.

So with demand booming for aviation services in the UAE and other GCC nations, including the launch of Saudi Arabia's new national carrier, Riyadh Air, and the proposed new passenger terminal at Al Maktoum International Airport, also known as Dubai World Central, the numbers will only get better from here.

Dr. Ahmad Al Ali
"Aeronautical, aerospace and avionic engineers will also have opportunities. However, I see the most demand coming for aircraft maintenance engineers as airlines, especially Emirates, with nearly 310 aircraft coming into its fleet,” said Dr Ali. Image Credit: Dhanusha Gokulan

“While the number of applications improves by around 10 per cent per year, although we say 10 per cent, this year, I think we’re looking at least 15-20 per cent, judging by the number of applications we have received so far,” said Dr Ali.

He explained, “Our programs do not start until September, and we may even have a higher percentage of students, especially in those dynamic and highly sought-after programs, such as a BSc in Data Science and a BSc in Artificial Intelligence.”

EAU, established in 1991 in Dubai’s Academic City, offers programmes in aeronautical engineering, business administration, aviation management, safety and security. The university has also launched two PhD programmes in aviation management and data science.

Jobs at DWC, Emirates

Dr Ali said the new passenger terminal at DWC will create hundreds of new jobs for aircraft maintenance engineers. “Aeronautical, aerospace and avionic engineers will also have opportunities. However, I see the most demand coming for aircraft maintenance engineers as airlines, especially Emirates, with nearly 310 aircraft coming into its fleet,” said Dr Ali.

As of late 2023, Dubai’s flagship carrier, Emirates, has orders for 205 Boeing 777X family aircraft, 35 Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, and 65 Airbus A350-900 aircraft.

Emirates is not the only airline looking for aircraft technicians. With the global commercial aeroplane fleet expected to double by 2042, American OEM Boeing forecasts an industry-wide demand for 2.3 million new aviation personnel over the next 20 years, including 690,000 maintenance technicians.

“Other carriers also come and try to get students from us. Other local carriers, Air Arabia and Etihad Airways, also hire our students,” he said.

EAU students have been hired by plane lessors Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE), flydubai, Air Arabia, Lufthansa Technik Middle East, the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority, Dubai Airports, and others.

Dr Ali is also confident that employability and job opportunities within the aviation sector are sustainable at current levels. “People retire, move on, and some even return to their home countries after ten years of working here, for example. The airline industry’s growth is overtaking the demand, so universities that train those engineers cannot catch up with that demand,” he explained.

Is UAE a new hub for aviation studies?

While most students are from the UAE, Dr Ali said that the demographics of international students at EAU consist of 56 per cent of students from Asia, 23 per cent from the Middle East, 12 per cent from Europe and America, and 9 per cent from Africa. The University is also witnessing a spike in students from Saudi Arabia.

“We have quite a good number of Saudi students who come and study the aircraft maintenance engineering, as the Saudi aviation sector is also fast growing. So, they send many students to study aviation maintenance engineering.”

The EAU has an overall graduate employment rate of 81 per cent. “Almost 99.9 per cent of our engineering interns get employed by Emirates because they are trained in the hangar, and they spend about four months there,” he added.

Meanwhile, aviation management graduates find jobs in airlines’ commercial departments, sales optimization, route planning, or managing offices.