Southwest Airlines values our Employees and their goals.

2010 ONE REPORT  >  people  >  Employees  >  Training

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Southwest Airlines Employees completed more than 230,000 hours of safety and security training in 2010.


Employee Training

At Southwest Airlines, we offer our Employees not only the training they need to do their jobs, but also the training they want to advance their careers. We provide internal training programs but also encourage Employees to attend external training and further specialize in their respective fields.

While we are committed to and prioritize compliance with the training requirements of the appropriate governing organizations, including the Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Occupational Safety & Health Administration, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S Food & Drug Administration, we offer a variety of additional training opportunities to our Employees. These opportunities range from external programs for continued development to internal programs focused on Living the Southwest Way.

Employee Training Hours

  • 59,004
    Maintenance and Support
  • 125,833
    Customer Support & Services
  • 112,116
    Flight Attendants
  • 219,440
    Pilots
  • 253,574
    Ground Operations
Our state-of-the-art, on-site training facility provides professional and personal development opportunities for our Employees.

Local Outreach Coordination Ambassadors

In 2009, Southwest Airlines developed a Local Outreach Coordination (LOC) program to connect the efforts of the various activities of Southwest Airlines in the community and to continue our history of being the hometown carrier in each of our cities. In 2010, the program extended to include local Employees, creating the LOC Ambassador program. In 2010, nearly 80 of our LOC Ambassadors convened at our Headquarters in Dallas for a day of training. The purpose of the training was to help them understand our goals and the importance of being a good corporate citizen in our communities as well as to help them connect the various opportunities and programs that we already have in the community. They heard from Marketing on our branding and advertising, People Department on our recruiting efforts, and Community Relations on volunteerism and donations. As our LOC Ambassador program matures and extends to more Employees, they will carry our mission to more fully engage with their community and provide feedback and opportunities that will assist us in achieving our goal of having a positive impact on the community.

Diversity Summit

In 2010, the Southwest Airlines Diversity Council hosted the very first Southwest Airlines Diversity Summit at our Headquarters in Dallas. The inaugural Southwest Airlines Diversity Summit brought approximately 100 human resources, diversity, and inclusion professionals together from a variety of industries. We invited these leaders to join Southwest Airlines in a forum on diversity and inclusion to share triumphs and challenges. The theme of the event was “Join the Conversation.” Together, the experienced group of professionals was able to share insights on the challenges that people from all different backgrounds face in the workplace and how to understand the role each person can play in making improvements. Guest speakers spoke about the efforts companies make to create an environment of inclusion. The conversation was appreciated, and the 2010 award-winning Diversity Summit was considered a success through the sharing of great ideas, discussion of opportunities for success, and dialogue on how to overcome challenges. Future summits are being planned to continue the conversation.

University for People

Southwest Airlines’ University for People (U4P) continues our mission of delivering personal, professional, and Leadership development while also offering customized training. Whether Employees need Microsoft Office skills, were just promoted into Leadership and need related training, or want a partner to support their Team’s development in a specific skill set, U4P provides innovative and relevant tools for all Employees to learn and grow.

Manager-in-Training Program

The MIT program is a development experience for high-potential Leaders who have long-term interest in and leadership potential with our Company. There are two program levels: MIT Level I and MIT Level II. MIT Level I—designed for Employees at the Supervisor, Team Leader, and Manager levels—graduated 40 Employees in 2010. Employees apply, then interview to participate in the three-week MIT Level I course, covering more than 20 training sessions to hone operational Leadership skills over three months. MIT Level II—designed for Managers and Directors—graduated 17 Employees in 2010. MIT Level II participants are sponsored by Senior Leadership to participate in this six-week program spread over eight months. These Leaders learn how to become strategic Leaders, refine their Leadership styles, research and present a proposal to Senior Leadership on one of our Company’s strategic initiatives, learn how to develop their Teams, and effectively lead through change.

Leadership Summit

In 2010, U4P and Learning Alliance hosted a full-day conference for nearly 700 Southwest Airlines Leaders. The Leadership Summit gave participants the opportunity to discuss corporate goals and build key Leadership skills, such as strategic thinking, through breakout sessions on women in leadership, a CEO roundtable, and work with Four Day Weekend, an improv group that guided Leaders through scenarios demonstrating the new Leadership Expectations. Leaders also heard from some great outside speakers, including Patrick Lencioni, Betsy Myers, and Charlie Feld.

Learning Alliance

The Learning Alliance, a cross-departmental collaboration of training Leaders, meets regularly to discuss, and identify learning opportunities for the growth and development of Southwest Airlines Employees. They also leverage best practices and maximize resources to create the best learning for all Employees. Initiatives sponsored by the Learning Alliance were the 2010 Leadership Summit and Every Customer Matters, a session on Customer Service, launched in 2009.

Safety and Security Training

At Southwest Airlines, the Safety and Security of our Customers and our Employees is our top priority, which is why it is a part of everything we do both on the ground and in the air. We are committed to fostering a Culture of Safety at Southwest Airlines and seek to identify workplace and operational risks, then proactively deal with these issues before they become injuries, accidents, or incidents. In 2010, Southwest Airlines Employees participated in more than 230,000 hours of Safety and Security training.

All new operational Employees at Southwest Airlines receive Safety training, and throughout the year the following departments receive additional job-specific training:

  • Inflight
  • Flight Operations
  • Maintenance
  • Ground Operations
  • Provisioning
  • Dispatch

In addition, Southwest Airlines offers cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automatic external defibrillator (AED) training to all interested Employees and requires this training for all Flight Attendants and all Operations Supervisors.

Looking Forward

We are making plans to implement a global Safety training program that will apply to all Employees. We will discuss more about this in our workplace key performance indicators in the 2011 Southwest Airlines One Report™.