A skilled workforce is the lifeblood of any industry, and the companies that operate within them. According to the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), “Associations are essential providers of professional education and credentials, and they must play a leading role in workforce training and development.” So, how exactly can CEDIA — a global industry association with member companies in 78 countries and a staff of less than 50 — facilitate meaningful workforce development-related experiences for everyone from students with no work experience to industry veterans?
The answer is that it can’t, at least not by itself. This isn’t a task one organization can tackle in an industry where most workers are or will need to become skilled tradespeople capable of installing, programming, maintaining, and continually updating complex integrated systems. For folks to truly understand the systems integration industry, especially the local industry where they live; what it’s like to wear various hats in the industry; and grow their career in the industry, they need immersive, hands-on learning and mentoring experiences provided by individuals who know the industry inside and out — the more local the better.
Local Volunteer Army Needed
CEDIA is working to create meaningful workforce development by building an army of local member volunteers willing to serve as industry champions and coalition builders in their local communities. These volunteers create mutually beneficial relationships between industry employers (integrators, distributors, manufacturers) and skilled trades talent pipelines (educational institutions, workforce development agencies, community organizations).
They help CEDIA:
- Build a coalition of local industry employers
- Connect and network with local skilled trades pipelines
- Communicate the size, scope, and talent needs of the local industry
- Validate CEDIA’s role as an industry association that offers education and certifications valued by local industry employers
- Advocate for CEDIA’s Cabling and Infrastructure Technician (CIT) and Integrated Systems Technician (IST) curriculum and certification to be included in new or existing local education programs
- Serve as a guest speaker and/or exhibitor at local events designed to connect jobseekers and employers
- Share successes and challenges with CEDIA and volunteers in other communities
The overuse of the word “local” is intentional, as the emphasis is almost 100 percent on making and maintaining connections within smaller communities. Workforce development initiatives will only be successful if the association, its member companies, and skilled trades talent pipelines are working in tandem to execute them where employers and workers live, learn, work, and play.
Leading the CEDIA Community
Chartered in 2018, CEDIA’s Workforce Development Working Group serves as a rallying point for local volunteers. The group includes businessowners, HR staff, tech school instructors, marketing specialists, and other industry thought leaders. Working Group members are committed to advancing CEDIA’s workforce development initiatives. They share their own advocacy journey, model outreach to raise awareness, and serve as mentors to the growing community of workforce development advocates in our industry.
While going local isn’t necessarily a new, innovative, or particularly hard task, going local at the scale and depth with which CEDIA hopes to eventually be able to go is quite daunting! Fortunately, we have had success in a few communities that should make future endeavors a little easier. Over the past few years, CEDIA has worked with local volunteers to get our CIT and IST curriculum and certifications included in new and existing local education programs.
Electronic Systems Integration and Automation (ESIA) Programs in Florida: The ESIA is a Florida Department of Education approved program available for adoption by qualified educational institutions that fall under FLDOE’s jurisdiction. CEDIA has been actively involved in developing and updating the ESIA curriculum framework that is used by Orange Technical College in Orlando, FL, and Pinellas Technical College in Clearwater, FL.
Electronic Systems Technician Program in Michigan: AV Technology Institute in Detroit, MI, is licensed by the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity to deliver private post-secondary technical education programs. Their Electronic Systems Technician Program was built using CEDIA’s CIT curriculum and certification.
Electrical and Electronic Systems Technology (EEST) Programs in Multiple States: CEDIA is working with Lincoln Tech to integrate the CIT curriculum and credential into its EEST programs. The CIT will be replacing the Electronic Systems Professional Alliance (ESPA) Electronic Systems Technician (EST) certification, which has been officially retired with ESPA’s dissolution. Lincoln Tech has EEST programs on the following campuses:
- Mahwah, NJ
- Union, NJ
- Whitestone (Queens), NY
- Columbia, MD
- Indianapolis, IN
- Melrose Park (Chicago), IL
- Marietta (Atlanta), GA
CEDIA and its volunteers have also been working on similar initiatives in the UK, as well as supporting high-profile events such as SkillsUSA’s annual Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart Home Competition. This allows us to increase awareness about our industry and the viable career pathways that exist.
Workforce development at CEDIA has come a long way but still has a long way to go. No matter how far we go, all roads will ultimately lead back to our home communities where member companies and their future skilled talent live, learn, work, and play — which seems very fitting for CEDIA, the association where home technology lives.
For more information on how you can become a local volunteer, please drop me a line at [email protected].