Professional development has always been an essential component of AV: something the industry has always taken very seriously. But in recent years with the growth of AV, professional development has had to step up a notch or three, with the two main industry bodies, CEDIA and AVIXA, working hard to ensure AV professionals have the skillsets required to deliver on all levels.
AVIXA’s efforts to build a skilled AV workforce begin with its charitable arm, the AVIXA Foundation. To date, the Foundation has been active in awarding scholarships to college students studying AV-related disciplines with an eye toward a career in AV. The Foundation also runs a grant programme for sponsoring internships at AV industry companies. Interns learn valuable AV industry skills, while sponsoring companies mentor and train potential, future employees.
“Recently, the AVIXA Foundation Board ratified an ambitious new strategic plan to redouble its efforts in developing a workforce pipeline for the AV industry,” explains Brad Grimes, AVIXA senior director of communications. “That includes programmes to increase awareness of AV as a career path, turnkey programmes that education institutions and community partners can use to support and develop entry-level AV skills, and engagement in career-planning efforts and job fairs to connect students and trained workers with AV industry employers.”
After the AVIXA Foundation has helped enable this career pipeline, the AVIXA association – with its established and respected training and certification – takes the baton and ensures that the AV workforce continues to evolve, develop, and deliver high-quality, professional solutions to customers around the world.
As part of its three-year strategy, CEDIA is focused on securing the long-term health of the home technology industry, which it firmly believes depends upon a well-trained and professional workforce. “It is CEDIA’s responsibility to deliver educational pathways that support this goal,” says Matt Nimmons, managing director, CEDIA EMEA. “In 2018, we further expanded the internal leadership and staff resources dedicated to the education department. Tom Darling, senior vice president of education and certification joined the team in May of 2018 and Samantha Ventura, senior director of education joined in March of 2018. Both Darling and Ventura have a deep understanding of post-secondary educational programming and online education formats.”
Under the leadership of Darling and Ventura, CEDIA has developed an aggressive education plan that includes significant revisions and additions to its online training programme. By the start of 2019, a new learning management system (LMS) will be fully implemented, offering a more streamlined user experience for those taking online training. Then, in January, CEDIA will launch 13 new online courses with 70 available by the end of 2019.
“The courses are set up to guide a user through an education pathway that prepares individuals for CEDIA Certification,” explains Nimmons. “The CEDIA education team has spent a lot of time developing these career pathways, working with the PDAC (Professional Development Advisory Council) and benchmarking against industry data to align them to education, experience level, and job type. CEDIA launched the globally revised ESC-T Exam in 2018 and a global revision of the ESC-D Exam is due to be ready by January of 2019.”
In-person training also represents a large portion of the CEDIA education programming for the next year as exemplified by ISE, which of course provides an excellent opportunity for visitors across EMEA to access ‘full, varied, and high-class’ CEDIA training tailored to satisfy industry requirements. “Our four-day education schedule at ISE is supported by Samsung and will cover a wide diversity of core curriculum, new technologies, and business improvement topics at ISE 2019,” says Nimmons. “CEDIA is especially excited about a completely revamped full-day Home Cinema Design Masterclass that visitors can take on Monday 4th February, the day before the showfloor opens.”
One way that AVIXA has been enhancing its training is by the breaking down of large bodies of knowledge into smaller parts. “When an AV professional is working on a project and needs to learn something new – or simply brush up on something he or she has already learned – we want him or her to be able to find targeted training on a subject without needing to take an entire course on a broad subject,” comments Amanda Beckner, CTS, AVIXA vice president of learning. “What’s more, we are beginning to reframe technical topics in terms of the solutions AV customers require. While it’s important for the AV technician to understand subjects like potential acoustic gain (PAG), it’s equally important to understand and communicate the real-world experience that a system’s PAG means for users.”
“It’s impossible for anyone in our industry to develop or innovate new solutions without formal, informal or social learning”
The continued development of training and education is, of course, crucial to the growth of AV, and the fast-moving nature of technology makes it especially important to ensure that the highest level of expertise is offered – which in turn leads to consistent, successful client outcomes. “Continued professional development ensures that delegates are equipped for technological advancements and the evolution of the industry,” says Nimmons. “Without sufficient training, it’s impossible to stay ahead of the game and provide clients with solutions that are ready for the requirements of today, and tomorrow.
“CEDIA’s Certification programme is recognised throughout the industry to promote to consumers that companies with CEDIA Certified employees offer uncompromising quality and expertise.”
Introduced in 2003, CEDIA Certification establishes clear, objective standards for knowledge within the home technology industry. This includes three certification levels with recommended education pathways for each, including ESC-T (technician), ESC-N (networking specialist), and ESC-D (designer). Nimmons adds: “As part of the continuing drive for higher standards within the home technology industry, CEDIA encourages its members to attain CEDIA Certification, and as such promotes any company employing CEDIA Certified Staff on the CEDIA Member ‘Finder Service’ at cedia.org.”
“It’s impossible for anyone in our industry to develop or innovate new solutions without formal, informal or social learning,” explains Beckner. “Also important is developing and evolving the foundational skills that ensure high-quality solutions around the globe. AVIXA’s certification programme provides a recognisable baseline of professional development for customers and companies.”