One aspect of my role at AVIXA and the AVIXA Foundation is visiting our education partners to highlight the value of AV careers for students and administrators. On a recent stop at Sheffield Institute for the Recording Arts, I had the pleasure of speaking with students from the school’s TechWorks program. I was welcomed with an eagerness to learn and students who clearly wish to dive head first into our vibrant industry.
Sheffield is one of several schools recently added to a growing list in close collaboration with AVIXA to help build more career paths into AV around the globe. Students in the TechWorks program learn fundamental electronics and installation principles, rack fabrication skills, control system programming, and AV system maintenance and troubleshooting, to name a few. The goal at Sheffield is simple: Prepare students to hit the ground running on the job. TechWorks students are challenged each week in labs and practicums to give them the hands-on experience AV companies so desperately need right now. The faculty are all industry professionals too, so students get the real deal from day one.
During my visit I could see the future of AV in front of me. Some students had come from parallel industries or the military, others straight from high school. A few shining stars already worked for systems integrators or live events and hospitality companies in the Baltimore, Maryland area. And nearly every single person in the room had an interest in the programming or engineering behind AV technologies. When we discussed the importance of integrated experiences they quickly rattled off examples from their own lives. It was a fantastic sight.
I share this as one way our industry can start closing the gap on the growing demand for qualified personnel. Like many of its peer institutions, Sheffield works tirelessly to promote our industry to prospective and enrolled students, but can only do so much on its own. Most of Sheffield’s graduates end up in AV somewhere, but they want to churn out more students for companies to hire. That can only happen if the industry is invested too.
Consider this a call to action. Reach into the schools around you. Donate your time to promote the industry and careers at your company (we’ve got resources to help you). Go to local career days and STEM labs, whatever you can do to help our next generation see themselves in AV. I firmly believe the needle will start to move in our favor.