ESPA Training and Workforce Update
For many, it is keeping up with new technology. For some, it is adapting to new business models involving recurring revenue models or cloud-based services. However, the one thing that seems to be on everyone’s mind is the shortage of qualified people to actually do the work in the field. This problem has ranked high on the list in industry surveys for a few years now, for both residential and commercial companies.
I plan to post several blog entries dealing with this topic, each focusing on a specific aspect of finding, hiring, onboarding, and retaining technicians. In this first installment, we will take a look at the industry in general, its growth, the demand for qualified techs, and what ESPA is doing to help.
The electronic systems industry is growing rapidly.
With 1.2 million housing starts in 2016, the residential systems channel is valued at nearly $20 billion annually. Commercial systems are also flourishing, driven by especially strong growth in education and health care.
In both channels, companies who were surveyed reported they expect their staff size to increase by an average of 14% per year. Because the demand for talent is so strong, compensation is increasing at the fastest rate since 2005.
It is clear that there is a huge demand for qualified people, especially entry-level technicians. Over the past couple years, the Electronic Systems Professional Alliance (ESPA) has made great strides to help build this much-needed workforce pipeline.
As you know, ESPA is a collaborative effort, founded by CEDIA, CTA, and NSCA, with additional support from other industry groups such as ESA, CABA, and CompTIA.
Its mission is the training, certification, and placement of entry-level Electronic Systems Technicians (ESTs). This effort has been expanded, and we are starting to see some real results:
- Substantial growth in both exams and Training Guide sales
- Great new school partner programs added in NH, FL, MI, GA, CA and IN
- Some programs showing near-perfect pass rates on the certification exam
- Ambitious plans for 2017 including a new online course, scholarship opportunities, outreach to veterans, and more
Which brings us to the action items to keep this momentum going.
We know the key to bringing more qualified technicians into the industry is getting them the training they need before being hired. This shortens the learning curve, and therefore the cost, of hiring them. This can best be accomplished in the academic channel, especially at high school career centers and tech schools. EST content is easily moved into channels where they already offer an electronics or IT program.
In some cases, schools are building all-new programs based specifically on the ESPA basics, and enhanced by content from CEDIA and other sources.
The one thing most of these programs have in common is the involvement of an actual integrator, an employer who has a vested interest in helping the school launch, or updating existing technical programs.
Here is the main “takeaway” from today’s article If your company needs qualifying entry-level ESTs, the best action you can take is identifying a school in your area that can provide that training.
Your engagement can make all the difference.
ESPA can provide specific recommendations related to content, hands-on activities, tools, evaluations, etc. for any program, from a 60-hour fast-track session to a full year electronic systems specialist curriculum. Together we can get a program going which will yield qualified, trained, certified people ready to go to work and help your business grow.