Recruitment and retention for AV integrators

Why is a booming, nearly recession-proof industry having such a tough time attracting and keeping people? As Tim Kridel found, the reasons are as myriad as the potential solutions.

For AV integrators, it’s the best of times and the worst of times. The industry survived – and in many markets, thrived – the worst global economy in 70 years. But when it comes to finding and keeping enough talented, skilled staff to capitalize on that growth, many integrators say they’re struggling.

One indication is InfoComm’s 2012 “AV Market Definition & Strategy Study,” which found “a major shortage of expertise and experience” in regions such as Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. “Pro-AV vendors in these regions indicated this is a significant problem that is an obstacle to growth in these pro-AV markets,” the report says.

Why? There’s no single reason, which means there’s also no silver bullet. For example, AV weathered the recession so well partly because it spans so many verticals, a strength that also sometimes is a weakness.

“For us, finding specialists is the challenge because today the industry covers a wide spectrum of specialties: corporate, theaters, sports, museums,” says Ibrahim Saad, manager of the AV department at Techno Q, a Qatar-based integrator. “Finding the proper experts that can fit in every one of these is pretty difficult nowadays.”

The scarcity of specialists creates another problem: poaching, and not just between AV integrators. As IT companies muscle into pro AV, they’re fishing in the same small pool of talent.

Although it's instinct to focus on fending off poachers, that's also short-sighted if it means missing the big picture, which includes apprenticeships for newcomers and ample certification opportunities for veterans.

“We’ve become a very poaching-oriented industry,” says Doug Carnel, AVI-SPL executive vice president of operations. “If all we’re doing is taking engineers and technicians from each other, or the IT field is taking them from us, we’re not really growing. We’re just making it harder for employees to be successful.”

In the full article Tim explores the impact of the AV/IT convergence, how to find talent outside the AV industry and how to retain good staff. Read now in InAVate Active.

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