Dubbed the International Communications Industries Foundation (ICIF) grant program, the new offering will officially kick off in mid-February with the start of the student application process. Until then, foundation officials are combing through applications by InfoComm members to select those who will be part of the first year of the program.
Starting in mid-April, grant sponsors—who will split the $4,000-per-student cost with ICIF—will submit its recommendations for grant recipients, with students who are part of programs related to AV notified of their acceptance into the program by the end of May.
Through the ICIF grant program, students will work and be paid for at least five hours per week at select InfoComm member companies and follow the lead of a designated mentor during his or her time “to aid understanding the industry, career path and options,” according to the grant application.
“The ICIF Board believes it is important for both the industry Foundation and the Grant Sponsor to have an equal stake in investing in the development of a workforce,” according to the application. “In effect, this involvement becomes a force multiplier and sustainable model for tracking recipients and results.”
Students in the grant program will be encouraged to take InfoComm online education and certification—including an online introduction to the AV industry and CTS exam—and will be invited to attend at least one InfoComm trade show during their tenures.
The grant session runs for a year, kicking off on June 1 of this year and ending June 1, 2016, with a mid-year grant report due by Dec. 15 and a final report submitted June 15, 2016.
InfoComm executive director David Labuskes is excited to kick off the program and hopes companies in the InfoComm family will embrace it with an eye toward the future, looking at it as a way of hiring the next generation of integration.
“If you want to support a student, we’ll match that,” says Labuskes. He sees the biggest selling point of the ICIF grant program as “working with people rather than writing a student a check and never knowing if they made it to the industry.
“We could spend millions of dollars on workforce development and never know what we’re getting out of it,” says Labuskes. “I want us to be very focused.”
Labuskes believes the opportunity to work with young people and introduce them to the AV integration world is long overdue, especially in a world where people have more choices every day on the type of work they want to do.
“At the end of the day I’m not going to be able to recruit a talented person for [a firm],” he says. “[The] same problem comes up all over the world. Guess what? Every single employer in the world has trouble finding talented people, so I ask, ‘what are you doing to find them?
“The talented people need to be sought out and you need to find them. What are our integrators doing to find these people? Are they going to career days? Are they identifying what kind of person they want to hire? If you can’t describe who you want to hire, how is it my fault that I can’t bring them to your door?
The recruiting world has changed in recent years, just like the way we communicate has evolved, says Labuskes.
“You can’t put an ad in the paper for a demographic that hasn’t read a newspaper in their lifetime and think that they’re going to get talented people,” he says.