AV integrators have long been plagued by a shortage, and now the industry is tasked with finding the new crop of technicians and engineers in younger generations that are looking for a completely new work environment.
To tap into the bountiful crop of tech-savvy professionals entering the workforce, AV integrators should acknowledge the problem, identify culture issues to make the workplace more attractive to those new workers, and continue to increase awareness and educational opportunities to build the elusive pipeline of young AV professionals.
An aging workforce and hiring problems
According to Commercial Integrator’s survey, more than 60% of the industry’s workforce is above the age of 50, which means retirement is just around the corner for most of the industry’s workforce.
According to that May survey that surveyed 465 AV professionals, just 4.55% were in their 20s, and 13.64% were in their 30s.
AV industry trade groups AVIXA and NSCA are similarly concerned about the lack of young professionals entering the AV industry. At the November 2019 AV Executive Conference in New Orleans, AVIXA economists said 65% of their member organizations have reported a hiring problem in the last 12 months.
According to NSCA, its members have an average of about 40 employees, but those companies have an average of about seven job openings. Courting those younger generations into an obscure industry remains challenging as workplace demands shift dramatically.
Future-proofing the workplace
Millennials and Gen Z want to work for innovative, nimble, inclusive, environmentally conscious and responsible companies that value a work-life balance.
AV companies must be quick to adapt to new technologies and resist the urge to continue to sell outdated products and ignore new and emerging markets like healthcare and hospitality.
Young professionals like millennials — especially Gen Z — grew up surrounded by technology and are quick to learn how new devices and systems function. As such, a company that is willing to take risks and explore new and innovative technologies would be attractive to the restless minds of younger generations.
Those minds also value a company that is conscious about its place in the world and its responsibility to give back to the community and help protect the environment.
Young professionals value the importance of volunteering and working to better the community, so consider finding some local volunteering efforts and allow employees to spend a day or two outside of the office volunteering.
Are there ways that your company can help minimize its impact on the environment? Do you recycle old devices and technology? Have you investigated solar panels or renovated the office to bring in more natural light?
Allowing employees to work remotely will not only benefit their work-life balance but will also reduce the amount of carbon emissions due to travel.
Building a pipeline of young talent
The lack of a widely adopted educational model for AV integration and the pro AV industry is one of the biggest roadblocks in finding new talent.
Integrators instead look to parallel industries like IT, electricians or audio engineers for entry-level jobs, and those employees are still many months away before they have enough AV knowledge and know how.
Building a pipeline from high schools, vocational-technical schools, technical and community colleges and traditional four-year degree institutions is critically important.
AVIXA and NSCA have started that work and there are more than 20 educational institutions that offer some degree of AV industry education or programs, but they’re located in a select few areas primarily in the U.S.
Further, those organizations can’t do all the educational outreach and coordination themselves. Integrators are the boots on the ground and should take up this task themselves.
Educators are always looking for industry partners to expose students to that real-world, hands-on experience that is becoming increasingly important as education shifts from a traditional classroom model to a more career-based approach.
Simple outreach initiatives like attending job fairs or getting involved in regional partnerships can help expose your firm to prospective employees.
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