SIA’s New Mantra: Education or Extinction

“Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.”

“Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.”

Those simple quotations from one of my favorite authors, Mark Twain, greatly oversimplify the education dilemma facing the security industry today.

Dealers have allowed themselves to lapse into well-trodden paths of least resistance when it comes to educating their staffs. Of course, the technology makes it easy to get lazy. It’s simple to assign fresh, green technicians to install low-end residential jobs.

However, scratch just below the surface and the easy “let’s-do-two-in-one-day” jobs aren’t around. That’s where the trouble starts.

There are two ever-widening technology gaps affecting the industry. The first is between manufacturers and dealers, and the second is between dealers and end users. In both instances, the lack of dealer training is holding back the cutting-edge technologies from reaching the marketplace. This bottleneck is prohibiting our $14 billion industry from being a $20 billion-a-year business.

The Security Industry Association (SIA) is doing something about it with several groundbreaking initiatives.

First, the association announced it would offer “matching funds” to organizations to develop and implement security-related training programs. Under this plan, the SIA portion of the matching fund could reach $1 million during a five-year period.

Second, SIA signed a licensed marketing agreement to distribute a new CD-ROM designed to train installers on CCTV. The comprehensive course includes technical, design and sales training with interactive graphics. The course, along with SIA’s Entry Level Electronic Access Control course, will soon be available on the Internet.

Third, the CCTV Interest Group of SIA is close to finalizing a new CCTV certification program that will be administered by the National Institute for Certification in Engineering and Technologies (NICET). Many of you are familiar with NICET’s high-quality, independent fire certification program. The CCTV program will create a Certified Video Professional (CVP) designation. Costs to achieve the certification are still to be determined, but dealers and individual technicians should line up to take the test and be certified.

Finally, SIA has chosen to address the ongoing labor shortage by instituting the “Your Career Is Secure” program to educate those persons considering a new career. High school and trade school students need to know about the cutting-edge career opportunities in security. A comprehensive Web site is planned and the program will seek out guidance counselors and military transition people to tout the industry.

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