CEDIA's Electronic Systems Integration Technician Training, a hands-on 12-week pilot program fashioned to equip future home technology pros with in-demand fundamentals, has graduated its inaugural class.
The initiative looks to address the perennial difficulties cited by integrators in finding and keeping qualified employees, and the completion of the program’s first phase is seen by the organization as marking a milestone for the industry. “This program is really geared towards making sure that folks that we’re attracting to the industry have the skill set they need to be fully contributing members to the employers that hire them,” said CEDIA Director of Workforce Development Tommy Tabor in the statement announcing the training initiative.
The program involves 108 hours of job skills training -- from basic laboratory work to home technology infrastructure training and rack building to home theater installation -- and CEDIA’s long-term objective is to roll it out nationally. CEDIA has identified multiple states as potential candidates for the program’s expansion, which could include partnerships with technical schools, trade schools, and community colleges.
Nearly 30 percent of respondents to CEDIA’s 2018 “Size and Scope of the Residential Technology Systems Industry” survey reported finding and keeping qualified employees as a challenge for integration firms -- by far the biggest concern identified by employers of all sizes.
“There is an entry level shortage in our industry, all the way down to my personal level,” said Thoughtful Integrations President Joe Whitaker, who serves on the CEDIA board of directors and the organization’s Strategic Advisory Council and Workforce Development Working Group. “We can't move forward unless there are people that take my place 10 and 20 years down the road. CEDIA’s overall strategy holds a lot of different components, from education to industry outreach, but none of those can continually go without a workforce to support an industry.”
The pilot program’s inaugural class included eight graduates, two of whom have already gotten industry jobs. By graduation night, seven trainees had also earned Electronic Systems Professional Alliance (ESPA) Electronic Systems Technician (EST) credentials and six earned CEDIA Electronic Systems Certified (ESC) credentials.
The initiative has received occupational skills training approval from the state of Indiana and it is in compliance with Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) policies at the state and federal levels.
“We learned a lot from running this first cohort,” said Tabor. “We look forward to rolling it out in more states and we are happy to talk to members about how they can begin setting the foundation in their market for the program to be successful.”