Andrew has extensive experience developing workforce development strategies. He previously served as the director of one of the largest one-stop career centers in the United States. In his previous roles, he oversaw business development, work readiness training, and job placement services. Andrew has excelled at developing synergies among hiring organizations and local communities to design and implement effective talent acquisition strategies. In July of 2016, Andrew was selected to pilot the Council for Airport Opportunity (CAO) as Executive Director. Since joining CAO, Andrew has been aggressively developing partnerships to expand CAO’s reach while modernizing the organization’s infrastructure. www.caonynj.com
1. As the Executive Director for CAO, can you share its mission and who it serves?
Andrew: CAO was founded in 1972 to identify and address the critical employment needs of the communities surrounding the New York and New Jersey Metropolitan airports, while at the same time responding to the hiring needs of the airport tenants and the aviation industry.
CAO works closely with airport employers to understand their talent acquisition needs. We then go to the local job-seeking community to educate, prepare, and connect qualified candidates to the airport employers. Since 1972 CAO has supported thousands of airport employers and connected over 65,000 local residents to job opportunities. One of our top priorities is to make airport employment accessible to the communities and employer partners we serve.
2. Matching candidates with the right job isn’t easy. What advice would you give someone seeking a position at the airports?
Andrew: The most successful candidates we meet have researched and assessed the different job opportunities available at the airport before they even visit our office. They are prepared with a resume and can speak knowledgeably about the position for which they are interested. This research and preparation helps our staff have a more targeted conversation with the jobseeker which in turn helps speed up the referral process. Jobseekers should also make sure they have their working documents in order. If you do not have all of your documents in the order it can slow down the hiring process even for the most qualified candidates.
Networking and developing relationships with people within the field you want to enter or grow in is extremely important. CAO is a resource for both connecting people to jobs for immediate gain and making introductions that connect candidates to industry leaders. A key component to effective job networking is being able to clearly and concisely state your employment goals. Once you develop a relationship make sure you stay engaged through email, social media, and/or in-person meetings. Networking can be scary for a lot of people but the more you do it the better you will become at selling yourself.
3. What are some of the biggest challenges for prospective employees and employers?
Andrew: The massive investment into JFK, LGA, and EWR redevelopments along with the record number of passengers coming through these airports are presenting airport companies and job seekers with unprecedented economic opportunities.
From CAO’s vantage point we see airport employers struggling to manage their headcounts to keep up with the rapid growth. Jobseekers lack awareness regarding the new opportunities being made available through the PANYNJ investments.
4. Talent retention is always a challenge for employers. What do you hear from candidates that airport companies can do better?
I believe low retention rates are caused by a variety of factors that are not all attributed to the airport employers. I often hear people leave a position at the airport because the position is not what they imagined it to be. The airport community as a whole can do a better job of setting realistic expectations of what it is like to work at the airport. CAO has recently worked with United Airlines to develop a set of career videos that showcase different airport occupations allowing the viewer to get a better understanding of the position and airport operations.
A more informed candidate will be better prepared to make an educated decision as to whether or not the airport environment is right for them and their lifestyle.
5. The redevelopment and expansion at the airports have certainly added jobs. What skills are most in-demand?
Andrew: Yes, the job market is booming at the airport. CAO is now seeing approximately 200 job openings each month from our employer partners. Each of these occupations will require a candidate to possess a certain base-level knowledge or hard skills to even be considered for the job opportunity. However, beyond the hard skills, which will vary greatly depending on the occupation, we find the most in-demand skills across all airport occupations are what we call the “5 Essential Skills”.
- Critical thinking and problem solving
- Collaboration and teamwork
- Interpersonal communication
- Ability to analyze and synthesize information
A candidate that can exhibit these “essential skills” during the interview process and on the job will stand head and shoulders above the rest of the competition.
About the Council for Airport Opportunity (CAO)
CAO’s range of services includes job training programs for unemployed individuals, summer employment opportunities for young people, hosting the Senior Community Service Employment program to train mature workers, ongoing customer service training for job seekers, and hospitality and food handling training to over 10,000 residents of the communities surrounding the metropolitan area airports.
On-site career centers operate at John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, and Newark Liberty International Airport where specialized training, small group seminars, and interview sessions can be conducted.