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March 14, 2021

Reacquaint Yourself with the NSCA Education Foundation

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The differences between NSCA and the NSCA Education Foundation, which is a charitable organization aimed at supporting industry workforce development, are subtle but significant.

With all the industry acronyms you’re already expected to remember, it’s okay if you don’t always remember the nuances of NSCA. But it’s good for NSCA members to understand what the NSCA Education Foundation is relative to NSCA, the trade association.

NSCA (National Systems Contractors Association), as you know, is the leading not-for-profit association representing the rapidly growing systems integration industry. Simply put, NSCA is a powerful advocate for all who work within the communications technology industry, including systems contractors and integrators, product manufacturers, consultants, sales representatives, architects, specifying engineers, and other allied professionals.

What Is the NSCA Education Foundation?

The NSCA Education Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization funded by NSCA. Formed in 2000, the Foundation is committed to growing the industry by providing access to educational initiatives and experiences aimed at enhancing personal, company, community, and industry success.

Here’s a snapshot of what it has accomplished so far.

  • Provided funds for thousands of students in technical colleges and career centers throughout North America (over 4,000 to date).
  • Supported the development of the Electronic Systems Professional Alliance (ESPA), an industry-wide communications technology consortium that develops basic training and certification curriculums for entry-level workers and offers apprenticeship programs.
  • Offered Randy Vaughan Scholarships to incumbent industry professionals who want to develop leadership and business skills (over $400,000 in scholarships to date).
  • Funded valuable industry research projects, such as the Electronic Systems Outlook, Financial Analysis of the Industry, Compensation & Benefits Report, Labor Installation Standard guidelines, and Guide to State Licensing.
  • Provided initial seed money to launch PASS K-12 (the Partner Alliance for Safer Schools). To date, over 4,000 schools have incorporated PASS guidelines into their technology planning processes.
  • Launched the Next-Gen Academy, a training program for rising integration firm stars that provides them with industry-specific curriculum so they’re prepared to lead a company in this industry.

What Is Ignite?

The communications technology industry is currently plagued with a shortage of skilled professionals needed to grow our industry. Three major hurdles include the pandemic, unprecedented growth, and the industry “bubble” (only those inside the bubble know about our industry’s great career opportunities).

While the pandemic is negatively impacting every person, company, community, and industry in many and varying ways, it’s spawning what’s known as the “Great Migration.” Couple that with an industry that’s experiencing tremendous growth, and it’s easy to see how these two factors fuel the fire around the need for a larger, more qualified workforce. As a result, most companies are stuck with a new set of challenges: managing their current worker shortages and future workforce needs. When you add in the reality that the communications technology industry is a best-kept secret, evading the limelight at all costs, this crisis tops most companies’ lists of critical issues.

Ignite is the workforce development initiative created by the NSCA Education Foundation to spark interest in technology. This is done through educational opportunities that improve the skills of current industry professionals and attract, engage, encourage, educate, and empower the next generation of professionals with a steadfast commitment to building and sustaining an equitable, inclusive, and culturally diverse workforce.

What Are Ignite Ambassadors?

Ignite Ambassadors are the cornerstone of the Ignite initiative. Their key responsibility is to pave the way to improving our industry’s workload and workforce needs by:

  • Advocating for and collaborating with local teaching institutions to develop and promote certifications and degree programs that meet the needs of our industry
  • Facilitating paid internship programs at their places of work to help students learn about our industry
  • Hosting special events to introduce students to our industry and connect them with the viable educational programs.
  • Serving as frequent guest speakers, offering company/installation tours, and conducting informational interviews

Plus, they get the opportunity to be part of a growing community of like-minded industry professionals who are sharing ways to help solve our current and future workforce needs.

How Do You Become an Ignite Ambassador?

Apply at IgniteYourCareer.org or email ignite@nsca.org.

What Is the Ignite Internship Program?

It’s a toolkit that includes a TalentLMS portal to help integrators create framework around their internship programs. It also includes a best practices guide and a $1,000 grant. Complete the Ignite Grant Application at IgniteYourCareer.org to get the ball rolling.

What’s the Ignite Job Board?

An online resource of communications technology industry jobs available from every NSCA member company.

What Is the NSCA Education Foundation Board of Directors?

While Chuck Wilson is the executive director of the NSCA Education Foundation, he and his team take direction from a board of directors that represents integrator and manufacturer NSCA members. These individuals volunteer their time to lead Foundation initiatives and tackle our industry’s signature challenge: finding, developing, and training talent.

The board includes:

  • Tobi Tungl, President, CTI
  • Lauren Simmen, Vice President, Crestron
  • Ingolf deJong, Treasurer, GenComm
  • Steve Greenblatt, Secretary, Control Concepts
  • Laurie Englert, Director, Legrand AV
  • Steve Emspak, Director, Shen, Milsom & Wilke Inc.
  • Tim Hennen, Director, Digital Labor Solutions
  • Gina Sansivero, Director, AtlasIED

Englert and Emspak both wrap up their board terms on July 1, 2023, after contributing immeasurable value to the NSCA Education Foundation. On behalf of the NSCA community, we thank them both for their efforts.

In next week’s blog, we’ll introduce our two new NSCA Education Foundation board members!

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