As part of the Ignite internship program, interns spend time with employees to learn the ins and outs of specific roles.
BUILDING YOUR TALENT PIPELINE
Resources exist to seed the next generation of integration professionals. By Kelly Perkins For as long as I’ve been in the systems integration industr y, it’s been a challenge to tr y to explain our work to non-industry professionals. Over the years, the industry has changed not only to include AV, but also to include low-voltage communications, life safety and security, nurse call and IT/network technologies. Earlier this year, a friend and former colleague of mine, Justin Watts, started a conversation among a group of about 100 integration professionals on Facebook. He said, “I’m often asked what, specifically, I do for a living. I have a diverse career path that spans multiple segments of the IT/AV universe, so it’s sometimes hard to connect all the dots. How do we explain what we do to people outside our industr y?” Responses to his post ran the gamut. Ever ything from “I work in audio—no homes or cars. No, I can’t fix your home theater system,” to “I tell people that I automate big buildings and other fancy places.” The most concise response, at least in my opinion, was, “I simply say, ‘I help people communicate through the use of audiovisual technology.’” This might be an obvious statement, but, if it’s confusing to you and me, just imagine how confusing it is to those we’re tr ying to recruit! This is just one of many challenges that we face in bringing new talent into our industr y. I’ve been the NSCA Education Foundation Director for about six months now, and we hear the same number-one business concern discussed over and over: “We need skilled technicians. We need design engineers, programmers and project managers.” And on and on. It doesn’t matter if you’re a CEO, an HR director or a manager of technical ser vices; the shortage of skilled workers is affecting everyone. The average NSCA member has at least seven open positions at any given time (nationally, that equals out to 17,000 open positions). Current industry training programs, such as Electronics Systems Professional Alliance (ESPA), fill only 600 56 Sound & Communications February 2019