Devil in the Details
Can industry trade associations agree on a baseline standard for technician certification and training?
By Janet Pinkerton
numerous industry trade associations are attempting to agree on a standard for electronic systems technician (EST) training and certification that would pertain to both the residential and commercial sectors.
The goals of the effort, which is the outgrowth of years of roundtable discussions slowly coming to a head, are multi-faceted:
to create baseline skill and knowledge criteria for technicians entering the industry from a variety of channels
to create an Apprenticeship Training program recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor that would establish ESTs as the "fourth trade" after electricians, plumbers and mechanical/HVAC contractors
to create an agreed-upon structure for industry self-regulation that could be used by state and local governments seeking to license and/or certify low-voltage contractors and their employees (see last issue's "Licensing on the Offensive" story), and
to create a means for low-voltage contractors to affirm and differentiate their expertise in the marketplace.
The Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA) and the National Systems Contractors Association (NSCA), longtime allies, openly acknowledge their support of a universal EST certification standard. The National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA) is also reportedly involved in the talks.
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), which is seeking to certify installers through its TechHome program, declined to comment. At InfoComm, best known for its training in the commercial and professional A/V sectors but now emerging as a training resource for residential A/V systems contractors, Executive Director Randal A. Lemke says he's heard rumors about the effort, but "I haven't heard any direct proposals."
WAITING FOR THE OMNIBUS
At press time, no formal agreements were in place for creating such a standard. How such an EST certification standard would be administered and how it would relate to existing professional development programs is also unclear. Balancing the interests and opinions of multiple trade associations is no easy feat.