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Scientific selection made simple


Being an air traffic controller is a specialised job. With less than 5% of the global population likely to possess the core competencies predictive of ATC success, finding those people and recruiting them is a real challenge.

So how do ANSPs reach and identify the people likely to make a great ATC? And what kind of testing is required to assess a candidate’s situational awareness, and the ability to make rapid decisions under pressure?

ANSPs’ ATC selection challenges

During the development of SureSelect, Airways’ ATC selection solution, we’ve spent many years conducting market research with ANSPs globally to understand their ATC recruitment and selection challenges.

The challenges of successfully identifying and recruiting that 5% of the population range from how to attract such a small and unique target group during a looming global shortage of ATCs

  • Attraction: Recruitment campaigns need to stand out from the crowd, and have wide reach – in a tight recruitment market, you’re competing with multiple and more well-known career options
  • Finding the right mix: Selecting the right people for training, who possess the unique set of competencies required to be an ATC needs a robust and validated selection methodology. The stakes are high for getting it wrong – failures in training have both a human and financial cost, to the candidate and the ANSP.
  • Choosing the right selection tools: One size does not fit all when it comes to ATC selection. A specifically designed selection solution is required, based on validated research and global best practice.
  • Providing a good candidate experience: Candidates need to understand the selection process, be engaged with gamified, easy-to-use assessments, and have easy online access to be able to take assessments anytime, anywhere.

How can we support ANSPs to choose the right people?

Identifying and selecting the right candidates that possess the core competencies predictive of ATC success requires decision makers to make an impartial, informed choice between candidates.

Airways can support with ATC-specific assessments on an easy-to-use online system, providing ANSPs with crucial information to support their selection decisions.

SureSelect’s ATC-specific assessments simulate key skills required by ATCs.

What are decision makers looking for in a solution?

From our research, we’ve learned that talent acquisition and air traffic services teams need access to an easy-to-use cloud-based assessment & reporting system that supports the following:

  • Scalability: cloud systems provide additional processing and storage to support increased applicant volumes without any disruption to testing, enabling a seamless candidate testing experience.
  • Flexibility: ANSPs can decide if they want applicants to undertake testing remotely, in a supervised environment(s) or a hybrid of both.
  • Automation: Selection tools that support bulk sending of tests and automated reminders reduce manual involvement in the process.
  • Objectivity: Using a validated battery of tests reduces bias by providing objective data to support decision making.
  • ATC specialisation: Assessments created specifically for ATC candidates provide high face validity (measuring what they’re supposed to as well as looking like what you’d expect).
  • Real-time data: providing meaningful information such as candidate rankings (not just sten scores and raw results). Decision makers in various locations should all be able to see results and collaborate on next steps.
The SureSelect online platform provides real-time result updates, ranking of results and detailed per-assessment reporting.

How can SureSelect support ANSPs?

SureSelect has been developed with all of these considerations in mind, and continues to evolve. Our range of validated ATC-specific test suites are being used by ANSPs around the world – in different ways, depending on their needs and budget.

The Covid-19 pandemic saw many organisations embrace new ways of doing things, including online testing which in addition to providing real-time results, reduced travel costs, time and carbon footprint.

The flexibility inherent in a cloud-based solution allows ANSPs to fit SureSelect into their processes, as these examples show:

  • Azerbaijan Air Navigation Services (AZANS) tested applicants in small groups as they applied, effectively having continuous recruitment, testing and the ability to constantly review results online until their trainee quota was filled.
  • Airservices Australia continued to recruit during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, using SureSelect’s remote testing option. They innovated their processes even further by undertaking a virtual assessment centre for activities such as verification testing and interviewing.

An eye to the future

As air traffic management continues to embrace change such as the rise of digital towers and an evolving mix of airspace users including uncrewed aircraft and advanced air mobility, in time this may lead to additional desirable candidate attributes or skills – selection tools will also need to evolve to keep pace.

At Airways International, we’re keeping a close eye on the airspace management industry so that we can continue to develop SureSelect to meet the changing needs of ATC selection decision-makers.