Ignite is on Fire

It's no secret that the pro AV industry faces a lack of skilled labor, but NSCA's Education Foundation is working on it via its Ignite program. "Twenty-five percent of our industry is retiring in the next five years, and we need shoes to fill those positions," NSCA Education Foundation program director Kelly Perkins said of the shortage. "Plus. It’s a cool industry and we should share that love."

Over the past year, Ignite's efforts—largely driven by Perkins and the foundation's board of directors—have grown leaps and bounds with the launch of its new website and the $100K NSCA Ignite Challenge.

Kelly Perkins

Kelly Perkins

"We’ve basically gone from a pipe dream developed a few years ago by the NSCA Foundation to a real, living, breathing movement," said Perkins.

Perkins' first order of business in the quest to seek new talent was to create and launch "the only online AV portal directed specifically at young people looking for a career in our industry." The main purpose of the portal is to explain to up-and-comers all of the opportunities pro AV offers. It's informative and "freaking cool" says Perkins. 

[An Open Letter from NSCA Ignite]

Young talent can start off on the "Real Careers" page, which gives examples of career paths created by successful AV professionals. From there, interested parties can navigate to the site's "Job Listings" page that lists open positions and available internships.

The foundation isn't just focused on new talent—they're also working with manufacturers, installations firms, and the like to create programs designed to attract and keep new professionals in the pro AV industry.

"We actually created the Ignite online internship/onboarding curriculum framework for those companies who’ve never had an internship program," said Perkins. "It consists of an optional eight- to 12-week framework built on four phases of everything from videos, articles, and on-the-job training tips."

It's been a banner year, but what's next for Ignite? Pushing out all of the resources and materials the foundation has created. 

"Now we need the industry to really step up and take the Ignite initiative to the next level: make it personal," said Perkins. "Use our presentation and brochure to go to those schools and create that strategic relationship. We’ve even created an Event Best Practices Guide to show all of the different cool ways to get involved face-to-face in your community."

Perkins encourages all members of the pro AV community to become ambassadors for the next-generation of #AVTweeps. "Talk about it to classrooms, at career fairs, heck, even weddings. Shout about it!" emphasized Perkins. "And put in the effort and time to bring in young people, to train them and mentor them, and ensure both their success and yours. It’s hard work, but I’ll tell ya—it’s worth it."

For more information on NSCA's Ignite program, connect with Perkins via email (kperkins@nsca.org) or on Twitter @kellypperkins.

Megan A. Dutta

Megan A. Dutta is a pro AV industry journalist, and the former content director for Systems Contractor News (SCN) and Digital Signage Magazine, both Future U.S. publications. Dutta previously served as the marketing communications manager at Peerless-AV, where she led the company’s marketing and communications department. Dutta is the recipient of AVIXA's 2017 Young AV Professional Award and Women in Consumer Technology's 2018 Woman to Watch Award. Dutta is co-founder of Women of Digital Signage, an organization designed to provide a pathway to promote networking, mentoring, and personal growth.