Ruminations on the Calendar and Our Industry on a Monday Morning…

Where did July and August Go? And what’s with the worker shortage?

So, I’m sitting at my desk this morning about to pull the top page off of my handy-dandy desk calendar when I actually stopped a second and LOOKED at the thing. August 31. The LAST DAY in August. And it hit me… Where on Earth did July and August go?? I mean, five minutes ago, I was on the shuttle bus in Orlando on the way to the Convention Center for Infocomm and – WHABANG! – It’s August 31! Eesh.

Now, I know the newscasters and mass media and, well, the whole darn world are all up in arms about the massive unemployment rate and the devastation of the (capital-R) Recession, however our little company has been busier than scratching dog at a flea circus! We’ve had back-to-back large projects since before Infocomm and even the company founder has been out in the field pulling cable and crimping ends to try to make deadlines. It’s been insane.

Add to this the fact that there is a SEVERE and MASSIVE shortage of skilled A/V installers and technicians in our area, despite the alleged “droves of people on the unemployment line” and we are all strained by our success at the moment. I’ve talked to other A/V types in the area and several are having similar issues – lots of work, not nearly enough skilled workers. We’ve been attempting to hire for months. It came down to using *temps* to complete at least one of our jobs… and using non-A/V temps means twice the supervision and ‘baby-sitting’ on the job site for the lead installers and half the time available for that lead installer to actually get the job done! It’s been frustrating to say the least.

And for the one left in the office to hold down the fort (*coughAVDawncough*), it’s meant picking up all KINDS of slack – purchasing and payables usually handled by a guy now pulling cable, answering phones, trying to arrange demos and still do quotes and bids and rustle up new business to keep busy through year’s end. It’s exhausting. Finally, a few of our vendors – manufacturers and reps alike in some cases – are in similar straits because of downsizing or mergers or whatnot and have become less responsive in getting back to us in a timely fashion. Do you know, I’ve been waiting for one callback for over THREE WEEKS now??

So, suffice to say, AVDawn has been a little on edge, as has everyone else in AVDawn’s world. We, as an industry, need to do *something* to beat it into people that A/V as a profession ACTUALLY EXISTS and is a WORTHY and EXCITING and GROWING field to enter. We need to lobby schools and universities to add A/V technology courses and be willing to work with them to develop and implement curricula that can inspire more talented, tech-savvy individuals to choose to work in A/V rather than simply falling into this cool line of work (like so many of us did!). Infocomm has started this effort – with curricula online and resources member companies can use to spread the word about A/V. They’ve also started A/V Week annually to get the word out.

We all need to do more, however. In an economy with an unemployment rate pushing two digits, and who knows how many more millions are under-employed, there’s no reason we should be suffering from a lack of skilled workers! Remember everyone: A/V systems today is where personal computers were in the early-to-mid 1980s. EVERYONE needs’em; early adopters who have’em need to upgrade; and those late to the party need to catch up quick! Our industry has continued to grow, despite the dismal nature of the world-wide Recession. It’s just growing slightly slower. So every one out there… Do your part to talk up our industry and help a tech-savvy youth – or a non-tech-phobic adult – find a new, exciting career in A/V!

Now you tell me: Has your company experienced skilled tech shortages lately? Are you busy? Hiring? Talk back! AVDawn wants to know!

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