Previously we asked industry insiders whether enough is being done to attract young people to embark on a career in pro-AV, here we consider the possible routes to reach new talent such as engaging with educational institutions, writes Ian McMurray.
A recurring theme among those involved in recruitment into the industry is that it is, first and foremost, a technology industry – and, communicated in the appropriate way, that should prove highly enticing to young people whose lives revolve around technology.
“The AV industry can offer new levels of technology diversity and creativity for young people looking to enter into a technology career,” Chris Edwards, marketing director at AV solutions company CIE-Group points out. “Certainly, for anyone from an electrical/electronics engineering background with a very similar skill set, the AV industry can offer a more visual, colourful, creative range of technologies and systems, with the opportunity to work on some high-profile and bespoke projects.”
“In addition,” he goes on, “there is less of an emphasis on the essential need for new candidates to be graduates, with hands-on skill levels and creative ability and foresight often being of greater importance.”
“The industry has a wealth of opportunities for young people,” believes Aneta Armova-Levin, CEDIA’s education manager. “From installation to design and on to project management, but also business development and increasingly customer relations, supported by maintenance and after-care services. There are opportunities at different price-point levels of the market and in different types of residential application – from single rooms to whole house and multiple, developer-led projects to superyachts. And that’s just the integrators themselves. There is a whole range of roles with manufacturers including product design, sales and training. Plus, this is an industry that will only continue to grow as smart technology hits the mainstream, bringing more opportunities. Above all, this is an industry where young people can work with outstanding products to deliver both exciting and practical experiences for their clients that will enhance their lifestyle.
“Who wouldn’t be attracted to that?” she laughs.
It’s unsurprising that those already in the AV industry are highly positive about it, enthused by what they do and excited by the future. The challenge is how to communicate to the world at large – and especially younger people – what a similarly rewarding career they could make in the business.
“We should be looking at school visits, placement days and exhibiting at career fairs as a sector,” says Blair Parkin, managing partner at consultancy Tandemonium Partners. “I also believe it’s time to get some of the manufacturer training, case studies and other rich material more widely posted on YouTube with a recognisable tag to group it together. How about ‘Pro AV Industry’? If all of the stuff our projects and companies are posting had this common tag added then a search would bring up an entire rich industry going forward.”
Victoria Neeson, director for the Americas at Dreamtek too sees the need to engage with educational establishments.
“AV companies need to do more to promote the industry,” she thinks. “College milk rounds, attending exhibitions and career days; more emphasis on recruitment into the industry is required.”
“We have to make sure we are reaching out to children while they are still young and teach them about the magic of AV,” adds Betsy Jaffe, senior VP of member services at InfoComm. “It’s not about pushing a cart – it’s about transforming the way we communicate through sight and sound. InfoComm participates in STEM [science , technology, engineering and mathematics] career events aimed at children so they can become familiar with the industry well before making a career decision.”
“We would very much like to see more of our members teaching AV skills at area schools,” she continues. “InfoComm members can license a programme and then offer it at a local institution. InfoComm will even train you how to teach the material.”
Both have an ally in Rob Grays, managing director of the Prospero Group. “Perhaps the industry should be promoting more among educational establishments, and technology expos have their part to play in advertising careers in the AV industry, selling the benefits and career aspirations,” he believes. “Technology expos and trade shows are a great medium for bringing together one’s passion and career aspirations. With the advancement of technology and excitement surrounding up-and-coming projects and products, this is a prime time for the industry to capitalise on this.”