Five or six years ago, finding and retaining talent didn’t rank in the typical integrator’s list of top 10 challenges. Today, however, it consistently ranks at (or near) the top. And the talent shortage doesn’t just include technicians. Designers, engineers, programmers, and project managers are also needed.
Some integrators are even turning down projects because they don’t have the manpower to complete the work while maintaining quality standards. Current staff members are working overtime, and work-life balance is suffering. This can lead employees to explore other career options, and we all know that losing a key person can make things worse.
The only way to fix this problem? Find ways to increase the number of qualified people entering the workforce, which requires a combination of training and raising young people’s awareness of the exciting career paths that exist in our industry.
To get this message out, and help schools build the right training programs to educate up-and-comers, NSCA launched IGNITE, which brings career awareness to high schoolers. The ESPA (Electronic Systems Professional Alliance) program is gaining ground in the academic channel as well. The program’s goal is to have ESPA programs active in every major market.
Jeff Gardner, ESPA’s executive director, is providing the industry with education on hiring practices, as well as building a proper pipeline of talent. He also serves on the CABA (Continental Automated Buildings Association) working group, which is developing a white paper on training and education for the electronic systems industry.
Gardner recently provided NSCA with an update about the ESPA program’s progress, which contains good news for our industry; we will continue to share these ESPA updates as they are released.
- Exam numbers are trending at nearly double the 2015 number, with 64 exams administered in August and 40 administered in September.
- Lincoln Tech in Union, NJ, recently tested 34 students; 33 passed, making for a nearly 100% pass rate!
- New schools are coming on board. ESPA recently added four new Authorized Training Partners:
- Orange Technical College in Orlando, FL, is building a brand new, one-semester electronic systems technology (EST) course to offer as an advanced option for students with computer and network training, including A+ and Net+ certification. Area integrators are highly engaged and helping with the program.
- Kern High School in Bakersfield, CA, is beginning with an adult track and will add EST to the high school career center offerings next year.
- Roosevelt Warm Springs in Warm Springs, GA, a school for the disabled, started an ESPA pilot program a few months ago. It will be expanding the program and testing three students soon. The school is also part of a larger consortium of eight similar schools across the nation.
- AV Tech in Detroit is a brand new tech school founded by a long-time industry professional, focused on audio/video/control etc. It plans to launch a 16-week EST program in Spring 2017, using ESPA as the main certification.
- Central Nine Career Center in Indianapolis is already an ESPA training partner; it’s planning a fast-track night school program for career changers.
- In October, ESPA and Lincoln Tech attended the sixth and final RecruitMilitary job fair of the year in Chicago.
Be sure to check back for future ESPA updates. If you have any questions, ideas, or school leads, please send them to ESPA Executive Director Jeff Gardner at email@example.com.