May 17, 2019 by Allison Tardif

With a new strategic plan (and it’s first ever 5K being held at InfoComm 2019), the AVIXA Foundation has been busy lately.  You might be wondering what exactly the Foundation does?   A great example of how the AVIXA Foundation positively impacts the lives of young people while also connecting AV companies with future employees are the special events it holds in conjunction with AVIXA trade shows around the world.  I recently sat down with Joseph Valerio, Program Director for the Foundation, to learn more about one such event called AV Career Day.

Q: What is AV Career Day?
A: At AV Career Day, we host students, educators, and community organizations for a day of exploring AV careers. The program is intended to inspire attendees to see themselves working in AV. The all-day events are made up of several components: “speed networking” sessions where students meet various industry companies to learn about their work, their culture, and the jobs they offer; an AV Tech Challenge were students get to explore the trade show floor; and AV skills practice sessions where students get some hands-on training.

Q: When and where are AV Career Days held?
A: AV Career Days have been held during AVIXA’s global trade shows for the past several years. We’ve hosted a few in Las Vegas and will continue with the next event in Orlando this June.  We’ve also organized versions at Integrated System Europe, InfoComm India, the Integrate Show in Australia, and TechnoMultimedia InfoComm Mexico.

Q: Who is the target audience for these events?
A: These events are designed for young people (16 years old and up) who are exploring career options and are not already in the AV industry. AV careers provide good opportunities for people who want a creative, yet challenging career that does not require a traditional college education.  Many pro-AV jobs align with existing passions for many students, in areas like esports or video games, music and DJing, digital media, and even graphic design. If you know a young person like that, they would be a great candidate for this program.

Q: How does AV Career Day relate to the larger goals and mission of the AVIXA Foundation?
A:  Our mission is to provide access to quality skills education, build career pathways, and foster valuable hands-on experiences which empower the next generation of leaders in the AV industry.

We will achieve this mission through global awareness campaigns of AV careers for young people who would be a good fit for them. Second is by enabling people by providing skills training, supporting their growth through scholarships, connecting them to internships and work experiences. The final piece is serving as a bridge to employment with industry employers.  AV Career Day is one of the ways we connect the dots. 

Q: How would you describe the state of workforce development in the AV industry? 
A: We hear time and again that a concern our members have is the need for more qualified talent. This is driven by the fact our industry is doing so well, and the opportunity for work has increased with it. Employers can’t find enough bodies to help meet that demand.  On the other side of the equation, many young people aren’t aware AV is a career option.  This isn’t much different in other skilled trades like nursing, HVAC, or construction; it’s a side effect of our cultural stigma against the trades. While a traditional degree may be right for some, others might be perfect for AV.  We therefore want students to see that with a little training and some hard work, a person can make themselves very appealing to employers in this field

Q: When you talk to people unfamiliar with AV careers, how do you convince them that AV is a good industry to enter? 
One of the most compelling arguments is that AV is for everyone. Most students already have a lot of the skills they need to get started.  The next step is to simply enhance what they know through some specific industry training and striving towards certification.  For example, someone is already in a strong position to enter this industry if they run the audio board at their house of worship, make music or videos with friends, or manage the sound and lighting in the school’s theater.  You can professionalize these passions.  The phrase “skills transfer” is used a lot in these conversations. A lot of young people are already doing AV, they just don’t realize it.

Q: What results have you seen from the AV Career Day program? 
The AV Career Day at our recent ISE brought two hundred students and faculty from around Europe. Connections made at the event led to some student internships and new pipelines for the companies involved.  We also follow up with the participants and connect them with AVIXA training.

Q: How can students and young people get involved in an upcoming AV Career Day?
A: If you or someone you know would be a fit for this program, contact us at foundation@avixa.org.  We’d especially like to hear from educators who would like to bring in a group of students from within driving distance to Orlando!  The program is free of charge and includes access to the InfoComm tradeshow floor.

Q: What can AV professionals and companies do to support AV Career Day?
A:
We’d love young AV professionals and hiring managers to help with this event. There are opportunities for companies to come speak about their role in the industry and the jobs they offer.  To get involved, contact foundation@avixa.org

AV Career Day at ISE 2019

About Allison Tardif

Allison Tardif is Content Marketing Specialist at AVIXA.  She manages social media and content creation for the association's marketing and communications department.