EDITORIAL: Addressing Our Industry’s Nomenclature Problem
We have a real nomenclature problem in this industry.
So many intriguing installers, integrators and retailers are out there doing amazing things, loaded with the knowledge and expertise that can enable connected digital lifestyles for people of all economic and demographic stripes. But very few consumers know what to call you. If they read or hear about lighting control or home automation or whole-house audio and they want to look someone up in the phone book who can help them make it happen, what are they looking under? And if they don’t know what to call you, they won’t call you. Or e-mail you. Let’s be honest: Dealer locator tools, no matter how good, have a limited level of effectiveness.
The nomenclature problem extends to labor recruitment. If a kid wants to grow up and be an electrician or an accountant, he or she knows there’s a trade school or college that offers a curriculum for such disciplines. If he or she wants to install home theater systems or whole-home entertainment, what are the educational options? What’s the career path? Most people today seem to have fallen into this industry by circumstance or because of a strong personal interest in the technology.
The Electronic Systems Professional Alliance (ESPA) is an ambitious effort to change all of this by providing a base universal certification and education program for low-voltage installers. It seeks not only to establish and legitimize a base term for installers—which it calls “electronic systems technicians” or ESTs—but it also wants to get that term and that line of work in front of high school guidance counselors, job placement programs for people coming out of the military, and the academics who put together curricula for trade schools and universities. The goal is to create, in ESPA’s words, a “career-ready workforce for the industry.” The education and certification program is being devised as we speak, and is slated to debut in the fourth quarter.