This past year was a record-breaking year for BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, which included increased traffic at the airport and continued its expansion plans. And these increases in traffic and additional businesses coming to the airport has led to an increased demand for employees.
Toward the end of 2016, there were 798 job postings listed in the BWI Marshall area, with some of these postings representing multiple open positions. While some of these positions are with the various airlines, there are a range of retail and food services positions in the airport that many people overlook.
A majority of the retail and food service businesses at the airport are located behind the Transportation Security Administration security checkpoints, making it difficult for businesses to hold recruitments or accept job applications from potential employees. To assist, the Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corp. (AAWDC) is tackling the issue head on at its BWI Workforce & Commuter Resource Center. At an office with an information counter on the lower level across from Door 8, job seekers are able to turn in job applications, utilize computers to search for open positions, attend hiring events, interview with a business and, ultimately, get hired at the airport.
Just before Thanksgiving, BWI Marshall opened the D/E Connector, which allows for better traveler flow through the airport. The connector includes new retail locations, some of which were additional locations for businesses; but it also spurred an influx of new businesses. The AAWDC offered services to all the new locations and is continuing to work with many that are opening soon.
The AAWDC holds an average of two hiring and recruitment events a week for different businesses in the airport to help address the growing demand. From July to November, the small office had more than 2,300 job seekers attend 52 different recruitment events held. This resulted in more than 260 hires at the airport, with many more expected as the new businesses in the D/E connector finalize staffing.
The AAWDC also recently partnered with SkillSmart, a hiring and skill-matching technology company, to help businesses fill positions based on potential candidate’s skills. Through the partnership, a customized online experience at www.bwicareers.skillsmart.us was created, where job seekers can find open positions, as well as the corresponding job profiles that identify the unique skills required for each position. Since the platform focuses on matching candidates and open positions based on skills, the candidate and the employer can better evaluate if the two are well-matched.
The partnership is a pilot program focused on retail and food service position at the airport; both organizations hope to expand the portal to include all positions.
The skills-matching technology perfectly aligns with AAWDC’s overall mission to ensure individuals are well-prepared for the workforce, ready to work and equipped with the skills in demand by businesses. In addition to helping businesses address their recruitment and talent management needs, AAWDC helps individuals get the skills and certifications needed to succeed.
Within the retail, hospitality and food service sectors, the AAWDC is focused on preparing individuals with customer service skills through training, which includes The Workplace Excellence Series, a national soft skills training series, and the Certified Guest Service Professional (CGSP) certification. Individuals who complete AAWDC’s Premier Customer Service Training are better equipped to not only enter retail, hospitality and food service positions, but they are better prepared to move up in the industry.
The retail, hospitality and food service skills training doesn’t stop at entry-level positions; the AAWDC also partners with businesses to train their current staff to move into key-holder and management level positions. Most individuals who are moving into higher-level positions within these sectors have never managed staff before, so the professional development training offered by AAWDC prepares individuals to take on more responsibilities, and helps ensure that good employees are not thrown into a management level position that they can’t handle.
Overall, BWI Marshall’s growth means more traffic and more business demand. AAWDC will continue to provide innovative and essential services to the businesses in the airport to support the ever-growing need for qualified candidates.
The BWI Workforce and Commuter Resource Center might literally seem like a small hole in the wall of the airport’s lower level, but that office can truly impact a business.