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Educating the “Future of Tomorrow”

Kyri Androu of Electricus makes AV integration part of the curriculum for the college classes he teaches.

Electricus Students at Work

As a young man, Kyri Androu realized he excelled at working with his hands. Even though he passed his A Levels and qualified for university, it wasn’t what he wanted to do. So, he moved into the electrical industry and trained with his uncle, who was an electrician.

After learning how to do electrical installations and security systems, he completed an apprenticeship to get his electrical qualification. By 2008, he decided to build his own business. Electricus was born and Androu was self-employed. By 2009, it was a limited company.

Fast-forward a few years to when the projects were more complex. AV began to play a bigger role, whether through lighting control, music, or video. The bigger the project, the more people were communicating, making decisions, and stalling progress.

Androu found himself waiting on clients to see the updated design or someone else to run the cabling needed for his part in the project. It was frustrating for everyone because it was arduous. So, he did his research and installed his first lighting system in 2014. He programmed more than 400 lighting circuits and keepers, at which point he said, “If I can do that, I can do anything.”

Not long after, Androu formed Electricus Audio Visual, which has a more comprehensive set of services, from simple AV to electrical to security and anything in between. He knew he wanted to simplify the project process, which is why his company provides one point of contact for clients.

The contact from Electricus speaks to the builder, architect, interior designer, or anyone else involved, removing communication delays and frustrations he saw early on in his career.

What started out as a two-man AV business is now a team of eight, plus subcontractors.

Working With Students

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Androu realized he needed to add more engineers to the growing Electricus Audio Visual team. There was just one problem: The engineers he was working with didn’t have the necessary experience.

So, he set about creating a strategic solution — train the workforce early.

“Electricians know how to run cables, but they can’t terminate. If you can terminate a cable properly when you’re dealing with high voltages, why can’t you terminate low voltage?” Androu questions. When he was approached by Waltham Forrest College in London, he knew it would be a great way to “educate the future engineers of tomorrow.”

Electricus Training Session

He’d taught himself the AV trade, but it doesn’t have to be as complicated for new students. He explains, “Why not give a kickstart to someone else who’s doing their electrical apprenticeship? They’ll have a feel or some form of experience with AV, understand it a bit better, which gives them a better job opportunity going forward.”

As they learn, they may continue with electrical career pathway or love AV and decide it’s a career they will enjoy. Either way, Androu emphasizes, “Through the college, we’re giving them a foundation. It’s being able to understand basic-level stuff, so they’ve got a good foundation.” With a strong foundation, they can go out into the workforce and say, “I can help you with that so we’re doing it properly.”

The whole point of working with the college is to offer better opportunities. “It’s about giving back. And giving someone a chance to do something they didn’t think they could do, but now they can,” he says.

It’s an added benefit that creating this strong foundation for students also helps AV companies and “reenergizes the opportunities” to get people in the door. More knowledge is beneficial to the students and makes them better engineers when they become employed.

Electricus has offered four classes at Waltham, including fascinating subjects like smart lighting and music. All the training answers two simple questions: [1] How does it work? [2] Why does it work?

Androu has found that since he’s been working with students, he’s becoming even more effective in conversations with his clients because he’s more clearly able to explain why he’s making project choices.

Challenges in Developing the Workforce

The path to successful workforce development is beginning to become clearer, although it’s not without challenges. Androu points out a few obstacles he’s noticed.

General lack of awareness of the industry. “No one knows this industry actually exists unless they’re in the ultra-high net worth space. Even those people don’t really know the industry exists. They know they’ve got something in the house that, when they push a button, something happens, but they don’t actually understand they’ve got a smart home,” he notes.

Clients aren’t necessarily managing their own smart home systems — integrators often work with the maintenance team. The clients who can afford ultra-luxury solutions likely know the systems they have. They know they have a Lutron lighting system, for instance, but they’re happy knowing that when “they push a button or touchscreen, something happens in their home.” The maintenance teams are the people who understand how the technology works more than the client.

Facing the Obstacles

For Androu, grassroots efforts are key. Having conversations and providing opportunities for young people and career changers to learn about the smart home technology industry is vital.

Integrators and other industry professionals should get connected with colleges that offer electrical courses. “I’d say more information targeted toward colleges would be good because they’re steady. People could walk through the door and have the smart home courses as part of their learning options. It might open someone’s eyes to go, ‘What’s that about? Let me read more about it,’ as part of their prospectus,” he says.

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As for Androu, he’s not slowing down his efforts. In fact, he wants to carry it on to more educational institutions. He explains, “I’ve got proof of concept. I know it’s working. I know I’ve helped a few people at least because they’ve come to our Instagram and messaged us, saying, ‘I really love what I’m doing now. You gave me good insights and it’s opened the door.’”

That’s what it’s all about.

So far, Androu’s model has directly impacted three students from the college. The students “got opportunities in three different companies they may never have gotten before. And the companies may not have known about these guys before, either,” he says.

It certainly gives students — and the industry — hope.

Opportunity has been top-of-mind for most people hiring and looking for work in the growing smart home technology industry, and this new focus on workforce development brings a new level of excitement. Educating the future of tomorrow, as Androu likes to say, is a win-win for everyone, and a model that could work around the globe.