According to a recent study by the Bureau of Labor and Employment, millennials make up about 43 percent of the workforce today. Baby boomers take second, with Generation X trailing in third. Generation X never managed to snag the top spot away from the Baby Boomers. So what does this mean for the AV industry?
Youth in the AV industry cannot be placed into a single category. We see many people entering the industry with interests that extend beyond the audiovisual realm. The youth entering the workforce are looking for positions that utilize all they have to offer while continuing to challenge them. We want employers that see our value beyond our job description, and encourage that initiative to feed our drive to better our industry.
Something I quickly noticed is that there are many different ways to break into the AV industry, and sometimes it is pleasantly unexpected. Of course, I can talk most confidently about my own origin story.
My background and education is primarily in acoustics, media production, audio engineering, and business. The AV part, dealing with projectors, control systems, and videoconferencing, was a foreign language to me when starting out; however, it is my other traits that make me an example for youth in AV today.
We are not "AV" people, and we probably never will be. We don't really tend to geek out about a new projector lamp or display lineup, but we will show great interest in new and innovative ideas and tools that help us bridge the chasm of convenience that stands between user experience and tasks that can be accomplished.
We are a hybrid of so many other areas, such as networking, electrical engineering, and media production. This is primarily because traditional AV design is not really taught in schools, and rightfully so. Teaching students the skills of networking, engineering, programming, and physics is much more valuable than teaching them AV design. One stems from the other. Those additional skills that don't directly apply to AV can now be used to enhance and evolve the solutions we provide in creative and innovative ways. This allows the youth in the industry to think for themselves and use their own skills to offer better solutions and designs.
The wide range of talents also gives us the ability to share ideas and branch out into other areas while shaping our career paths. This renaissance skill set is something that I feel is extremely important for youth in the workplace today. Creative thinking and innovation must be nourished and encouraged by employers, and they need to see the long term value to changing and adapting their business model. The old model will no longer hold, and the youth are actively pursuing new and creative ways to introduce a paradigm shift.
Jonathan Owens is a multi-disciplinary Consultant at Shen Milsom & Wilke, LLC. Owens has more than 10 years of experience in audio and audiovisual design, engineering, acoustics for a wide variety of projects including corporate, commercial, fine arts performance centers, entertainment facilities, higher education, K-12 schools, and healthcare facilities. Owens is also a professional recording/mixing engineer and sound designer.