Aviation workers chart sure path to the future thanks to DCU course

University’s micro-credentials mean professionals in the sector can earn and learn, enabling them to keep up with the fast pace of change

Dr Marina Efthymiou, associate professor in aviation management and director of postgraduate aviation courses at Dublin City University’s Business School. Picture: Fergal Phillips

A career in the aviation sector never stands still. As technology advances and industry practices evolve, professionals in aviation must navigate a landscape of constant change. Micro-credentials, with their targeted and flexible content, empower the wide range of professionals in this dynamic industry to stay ahead of the curve.

Dr Marina Efthymiou, associate professor in aviation management and director of postgraduate aviation courses at Dublin City University’s Business School, explains: “The aviation industry is increasingly under pressure to reduce its carbon footprint and adopt sustainable practices. Governments and consumers are demanding more environmentally responsible aviation operations. Airlines, airports and related businesses need leaders who understand the nuances of sustainability in aviation.”

It’s vital that those in the industry take all this on board as they forge a path to creating a more sustainable industry, which is why the Graduate Certificate in Aviation Sustainability, Leadership, and Innovation offered by Dublin City University (DCU) addresses a critical need.

According to Efthymiou, the DCU programme address these concerns, making the content of the courses both relevant and timely. Structuring the programme around micro-credentials, four of them in total, makes it possible for professionals to take a customised learning journey that aligns with their career goals and current skills gap. Each of the four micro-credentials can be taken individually on a standalone basis, or as a stacked block to achieve the graduate certificate or be used to top-up to an MSc in Aviation Leadership.

“The focus on learning leadership and innovation is crucial for the aviation industry's growth and adaptation to changing circumstances. As new technologies, market trends and regulations emerge, leaders in aviation must be equipped with the skills to drive innovation and adapt their organisations accordingly. These micro-credentials provide a strong foundation in these areas,” said Efthymiou.

Dr Mairéad Nic Giolla Mhichíl, director of Micro-Credential Strategy and Innovation at DCU and head of DCU Studio, highlighted the breadth of what’s covered in the aviation-focused micro-credentials, which includes areas such as sustainable aviation and green innovation, leadership for aviation managers, digitalisation and business analytics in aviation, and aviation policy and regulations. This means that they have broad appeal.

This is backed up by the profile of the participants, which ranges from early career starters to senior professionals. They come from all areas of the aviation industry, from piloting, airports and airlines to leasing and air traffic control, and from a range of nationalities.

Micro-credentials are designed to fit around the schedules of working aviation professionals who often cover a lot of ground and continents. It’s delivered through a tailored mix of blended learning, which involves two days on campus, synchronous online lectures and asynchronous learning activities.

But the value and importance of peer interactions is also weighted in the course design, said Nic Giolla Mhichíl. “Participants will also be invited to on-campus events to facilitate and support networking and to enhance their learning and professional experiences.”

The benefits are many, she said: “Participants will engage in hugely relevant courses within the aviation sector and will benefit from both the academic and aviation research expertise in DCU but also our deep partnership with the aviation industry. This also has a practical benefit for participants as well, as many of them can avail of reduced fees through membership of the Aviation Skillnet for these micro-credentials.”

At a broader level, the growing appeal of micro-credentials is evident in their ability to enhance personalised and contextualised learning for participants. As Nic Giolla Mhichíl points out, they allow individuals to chart bespoke learning pathways as they advance in their careers or as they decide to transition into new areas or roles.

“As a shorter learner experience, micro-credentials also de-risk the commitment that further study can sometimes impose on industry, and by working with universities to design and support micro-credentials, employers can really inform and shape the learning experience.

“Ultimately, flexibility is vital, and being able to earn and learn has become increasingly important to professionals across many industries.”