Summary: Our major media tell the news from the perspective of the 1%, no matter how bogus. For example, in stories about “skills shortages” we see the New America in which employers refuse to pay market-based salaries. They assume that the reserve army of the unemployed — refreshed by immigration — will keep wages down. So they play a game of chicken with workers, assuming that the game is stacked in their favor. Here we look at this contest in the market for commercial airline pilots, one of increasingly common stories about “skills shortages.”
This article in Forbes nicely shows the modern CEO’s view of the world (that’s what Forbes does).
“Pilot Shortage Threatens To Slow U.S. Airline Growth”
by Brian Prentice and Philippe Gouel, 28 Jan 2016
“Unless airlines find ways to work with partners to cultivate a pilot pipeline, they could face difficult, even volatile, competition for experienced pilots because the current regulatory and industry situation can only yield about two-thirds of the pilots the U.S. will need in the next 20 years. … Leading airline executives are considering a new approach to the problem by forming partnerships with operators, training providers, and even regulators to shape the pipeline of pilots in training.”
“Leading airline executives” have more sophisticated tools than microeconomics 101. They do not see a pilot shortage as market signaling that they do not pay pilots enough to produce the needed supply. They have “new approaches.”
Tanya Powley at the Financial Times explains some causes in “Shortage of trained pilots could keep jets on the ground” , 9 March 2016 — “Challenge of keeping the cockpit staffed as passenger demand for flights surges.”
“It’s all I’ve wanted to do since I was about 11 but it’s not without its challenges,” says Mr. Audlin… “You’ve got the stress of pilot training, which is incredibly intense, coupled with financial stress.” … The cost of training is substantial: it can exceed £100,000 for those who undertake a full-time 18-month course. If they go on to train on a specific aircraft, such as the Boeing 747 or Airbus A320, they have to find another £30,000.
Twenty years ago, airlines mostly paid for training, or pilots would join from the military. However, as cuts have been made across an industry that often struggles to be profitable, the financial burden has gradually shifted to the trainee, and most have to cover the cost with bank or family loans.
That sounds like quite a challenge. But like the Forbes article, she doesn’t mention wages. The journalists at The Economist explain modern capitalism’s problem-solving methods: “America is running out of people to fly its planes“, 9 March 2016.