Time for Integrators to Focus on Training, Retention

Economy and unemployment showing positive signs; now companies need to make sure it continues.

With the national unemployment level reaching a six-year low, it looks like the 137 integrators and consultants who responded to CI for the 2015 State of the Industry Report were right to be optimistic about the future.

In that report, more than 80 percent of integration firms said the overall business climate is good, very good or excellent as we enter 2015, and 54 percent report revenue growth of over 5 percent in 2014. Almost 45 percent of State of the Industry respondents characterized the overall business climate as “very good or excellent.” Less than 10 percent said their company’s revenue was down in 2014.

Employee confidence and hiring are also on the rise, according to a Glassdoor survey that says almost half of the nation’s workforce expect a raise this year and more than one-third will seek new jobs if they don’t get one.

All of these trends are good news for employees, but what about those who are looking to add to their workforce? A survey conducted by hiring firm Execu|Search, which serves the greater New York and Boston areas, notes almost two-thirds of employers say their biggest hiring challenge in 2015 will be finding qualified candidates. About the same percentage plan to focus more of employee training and retention this year, according to The Boston Globe.

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InfoComm executive director and CEO David Labuskes says the pro AV market is growing faster than the overall economy, according to InfoComm and Acclaro Growth Partners’ 2014 AV Market Definition and Strategy Study, but that doesn’t mean 2015 will be easy for integrators and consultants.

“The reality for our integration members has very little to do with the GDP or macroeconomics,” Labuskes said in the State of the Industry report. “It has to do with how hard is it to do work every day, how challenging is it to keep the doors of your business open or to grow your business.

In the State of the Industry report, NSCA executive director Chuck Wilson said he hears mixed results from the 10 integrators he talks to every day.

“For every two companies that are doing great, there’s one doing badly,” he says. It’s not always about which projects an integrator pursues or lands; a lot of times, it has more to do with making your own breaks, says Wilson.

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The Execu|Search survey points to IT as one of three markets—along with healthcare and financial services—that will thrive over the next 12 months. Employers must realize, though, there’s a widening skills gap, with technical skills lacking in comparison to the growth of technology across all industries.

If you want to hear more numbers and more predictions about what’s ahead and why, take solace in knowing Dr. Lee McPheters told NSCA Business and Leadership Conference attendees last year than 2014 would finally be the year the economy would noticeably improve.

With all these positive signs from so many sources in 2015, here’s guessing McPheters’ report at this year’s event will be even more encouraging. None of it means we’re all the way back, but it’s good to know we could be heading into another year of relative prosperity for most.