Inclusive Recruitment with NATS

NATS is the UK’s leading provider of air traffic control services. Each year they handle over 2.5 million flights and 250 million passengers in UK airspace. In addition to providing services at major airports and all upper airspace in the UK, NATS work in more than 30 countries around the world spanning Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and America.


Every year, NATS recruit trainee controllers. Training for the successful applicants lasts for two years and costs over £500,000 so it is imperative to find the right people – from about 30,000 applicants per year. Furthermore, because of the safety critical nature of their work, NATS must maintain incredibly high standards. This means their recruitment processes need to be exemplary.

As a result, NATS requested a review of their current assessment processes with recommendations to make them as fair, efficient, and accurate as possible.

We won this opportunity due to our combined Recruitment and Diversity & Inclusion focus. This enabled NATS to feel comfortable knowing that they had the best diverse talent pool to choose from and from that they would then be able to hire the best people for the role.


Led by James Meachin, we produced a comprehensive report for NATS reviewing their existing recruitment process. The report included recommendations which we then implemented. We designed a new part of their online screening processes and changed their approach to assessment centers. We then trained the assessors and recruitment team at NATS to successfully deliver and manage these new processes. This emphasis on training individuals to become skilled assessors is crucial when keeping inclusion a priority. Finally, this training was accredited to ensure unbiased, quality decisions will be consistently made.


Our evaluation found that the percentage of BAME candidates reaching the final stage assessment centre increased by a factor of almost 4 – from 3.4% to 13.2%. Due to a Covid-related recruitment freeze, NATS suspended the revised assessment centres shortly after they were launched, so it is not currently possible to compare overall pass rates.

“James gave great advice based on his expertise and knowledge.  I have had so much feedback from the business about how brilliant James is and how much he ‘knows his stuff!’. Any questions or queries I have had have always been answered promptly, something which I really appreciated as the project manager with so much to juggle.”

— Claire Burton, HR Project Lead, NATS

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