Invest in Training

By Paul Starkey
Published on: June 30, 2017

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I was recently struck by a statistic that 62% of American jobs pay less than $20/hour. Combine that with the country’s largest population segment now being millennial and add an attitude that young people entering the job market see themselves as management material immediately and you have a dilemma of great proportion.

Meanwhile, owners/operators complain about the lack of talent to fill entry-level tech jobs in CI. Parents and students alike lament over student debt that they know they won’t be able to resolve given the limited pay options once exiting college.

Enough of the sniveling. Here are two points I would like to make:

  1. We can do a much better job of making working at our companies attractive (desirable, fanatical even).
  2. We must invest in training as a long-term asset to build our businesses continuously.

What is so great about joining a home technology firm as a professional home technician?

  • Let’s begin with getting paid better than 90% of the jobs available to the 18 to 25 year old worker.
  • Being able to work in a 40-hour job, outside an office in some of the most amazing homes in America.
  • Being able to develop skills that will last a lifetime in an industry that is dynamic, ever-changing and cool on so many levels.
  • Include benefits: insurance and 401K, which are not givens everywhere.
  • Work in a job that your employer will invest over 500 hours of classroom training and countless hours of on-the-job training in your first 5 years.

Okay, the last one needs some work by most CI companies. I contend that if every company spent $7,000 a year per tech on training, including time out of the field, we would have better employees and more qualified, interested people walking through the door.

In our small group alone (25 companies), we have 63 salespeople and over 250 techs. In 2017, over 30 techs will be hired and maybe 50 given attrition. How much training should every tech get each year?

Okay, I understand manufacturers provide training and thank goodness for that. CEDIA and others do too. But multi-level training from new hire to expert needs to be in place. Practical, usable, measurable, productive training; aimed at skills, quality, efficiency, customer service and people development.

Kudos to Maverick Training Institute and its training program for seeing the need and doing something about it.

CEDIA has over 2,800 member companies (that’s approaching 10,000 technical positions) at $5K each, we would have $50M invested in training our people each year. I know it’s hard for small companies to let go of money without a keystone return. Trust me, as consultants, we live there. But if companies don’t invest; nothing will change.

Keep it Vital.

Paul Starkey

Paul Starkey

Paul Starkey is a 23 year CI industry veteran who led control manufacturer ELAN from infancy to a 150 person company. He is a visionary, keen on innovation, pioneer of on-line training, and numerous product innovations. He is co-founder of Vital Management and Executive Director of BRAVAS Group.

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