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Don't Stop Learning

Despite signs the U.S. economy is in recovery, the unemployment rate has hung stubbornly around 10 percent. In order to stand out from other job applicants and gain access to specialized positions, many people have decided to go back to school. In the AV industry, InfoComm and others offer certifications in areas of general audiovisual knowledge, AV installation, and design.

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Despite signs the U.S. economy is in recovery, the unemployment rate has hung stubbornly around 10 percent. In order to stand out from other job applicants and gain access to specialized positions, many people have decided to go back to school. In the AV industry, InfoComm and others offer certifications in areas of general audiovisual knowledge, AV installation, and design.

You may wonder if your employer willing to invest in developing a more skilled workforce. According to the American Society for Training Development 2010 State of the Industry Report, although organizations made many changes to adapt to the economic environment, they continued to support learning and development at levels equal to or greater than prior years. Average annual expenditures for training, per employee, were $1,081, which is an increase from the year before. According to the report, training makes up 2.1 percent of payroll costs, and on average, employees receive 32 hours of formal training per year.

Similar trends exist in the AV industry, where more firms are willing to invest in training, provided the curriculum is up-to-date and the training is delivered in a way that suits the company. Training is important in the field of information communications technology. New products are introduced daily, with lifecycles that are very short. These products must be integrated with others. One reason that InfoComm requires renewal units for its Certified Technology Specialist credential is that with technology changing rapidly, there needs to be continuous learning to demonstrate appropriate skill levels.

But of course, the user experience is determined by more than just moving data from point A to point B. Audio, picture quality, and the overall environment come into play. Again, training is essential to keeping up with the fluid nature of the industry and the ingredients of a successful AV install. Fixing projects is more expensive than getting them right the first time. Training, then, is important for building customer confidence and containing costs.

How should companies and their employees get that training? Busy students can usually complete industry training in less time than if they pursued a bachelors or masters degree, and in a demanding job market, specialized certifications help people stand out in their chosen field. InfoComm favors a blended learning approach, which allows students to learn online at their own pace, in a classroom, and in a hybrid approach that’s structured like a virtual classroom with interaction between teachers and students. InfoComm provides staff instructors for onsite education at corporate offices and events. It also licenses its training curricula to members.

AV companies can’t do it all. They’re busy booking and completing jobs. Not surprisingly, the ASTD found that employers have increased the amount of training they outsource to 27 percent. However you get your training, make sure you get it. An educated industry is a stronger industry.

Melissa Taggart is senior vice president for education and certification at InfoComm International (www.infocomm.org), the trade association representing the commercial audiovisual industry.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Launched at the end of 2010, Pro AV University was created to be an online portal of industry education. Based on the same electronic learning platform as Hanley Wood University, the leading online provider of American Institute of Architectsaccredited coursework, Pro AV University will feature industry association and manufacturer training under one virtual roof. It currently features online classes covering room acoustics, including designing to LEED for Schools specifications.

Look for new courses coming soon on a variety of AV topics, including a digital signage boot camp, sponsored by Visix; a crash course on managing new projection installations, sponsored by Digital Projection; and classes provided by Chief on flat-panel mounting strategies and installing optimal sound solutions in classroom settings.

AV pros register online and the system tracks the classes in which they’re interested and the progress they make. And it’s all free. Get started at www.proavmagazine.com/education.

 


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