Copywriter, technical writer, translator (FR>EN, ES>EN, IT>EN), journalist

Video-Game HR Recruiting a Near Reality

That isn’t a rhetorical question. Recruiting the right people is an unavoidable and costly challenge for many organizations.

Enter SkyTroller (iTunes link). This $1.99 iPhone app lets would-be air traffic controllers assign flight altitudes to aircraft entering their airspace. The game ends on the third “critical separation loss.” And, if the stars align, high scorers might one day receive a call from an ATC recruiter.

SkyTroller could help address a pressing HR issue. The Federal Aviation Administration, on which Ronald Reagan hit the reset button early in his presidency, faces a huge loss of ATCs around 2016.

The FAA also suffers ongoing ATC shortages, at least according to the ATCs. The FAA insists that US control towers are not understaffed, but echoes of this “disagreement” can be heard in places like Australia (link broken) and Europe as well.

Could SkyTroller help match ATC organizations worldwide with people who show the raw talent to keep the skies collision-free? Maybe.

SkyTroller concept originator Dale Leier, a 20-year ATC vet (retired) with Nav Canada, now with iPhone app incubator HeavyLifters Network Ltd., says that the game contains about as much of the real thing as HeavyLifters could wedge into a phone screen.

And NavCan, Leier’s old employer, has shown interest. (SkyTroller hasn’t yet registered on the FAA’s radar.)

Using technology to find promising staff is nothing new. There’s even a B-movie precedent, The Last Starfighter, in which aliens recruit the protagonist, an American teen, using a video game based on the gunships used in a far-off intergalactic war. That game notified the recruiter when the teen recorded a high score.

To help aspiring ATCs get jobs, SkyTroller would need a similar alert mechanism, on top of buy-in from the FAA and its sister organizations.

While this recruiting scenario remains incomplete, it still seems promising:

  • Perpetual worldwide demand for ATCs.
  • One low-cost app that could be used to test budding ATCs.
  • Millions of iPhones and iPod Touches sold that run the app.
  • Extra time for newly unemployed owners of these Apple products to figure out if they can help meet that demand.

Do you know of other “recruiting apps” made for handhelds? Would you develop such an app for your company? Let us know what you think.

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