Commercial Integrator March 2022 - 28

WORKFORCE Attracting Talent
Going Beyond the
INTEGRATION
'BUBBLE'
Integration leaders should re-evaluate company
culture and purpose, aligning them with what the next
generation of workers is seeking. By Alyssa Borelli
WHEN MATT THORNE, executive vice
president of Lincoln, Neb.-headquartered
integration firm Electronic Contracting
Company (ECCO), gives a presentation on
AV as a career for 30 to 50 students at his
local tech school, he begins with a showof-hands
question.
" What's most important to you when
looking for a potential employer? " he asks.
" Is it money? "
Three hands go up.
" Is it culture? "
Ten hands go up.
" Is it purpose? "
Almost all the students' hands go up.
Thorne, who has spent a 26-plus-year
career in the integration industry, notes the
generational differences now are vast as
compared to when he entered the field in
the late '90s.
" In my generation, it was typically about
pay, " Thorne acknowledges. " 'Hey, let
me do my job. I want to earn a check [and]
provide for the family.' And that was it. "
He continues, " That's one of the things
that we have to adapt and change to -
these generational differences. " Today's
young talent, Thorne says, are looking for
something a little bit different than what
his own generation is used to. " You have
to take that into consideration when you're
recruiting, and [when] you're educating
28
and [when] you're trying to find the right
talent, " he adds.
" You can't just dangle money as a carrot
in front of people anymore and expect
them to be more interested or driven
further, " Thorne emphasizes.
Finding qualified talent is not a new
imperative for integrators; indeed, this has
been a top business challenge for many
years, according to Tom LeBlanc, executive
director of NSCA.
In Commercial Integrator's annual State
of the Industry Report, published this past
January, 64.6% of integrators identified a
lack of qualified candidates as the biggest
challenge to filling open positions (This
was followed by salary demands).
" We're seeing a lot of talented people
jump from one integration company to
another, " LeBlanc says. " And they're often
moving to higher-paying and higher-level
positions, [which leaves] a lot of companies
scrambling to pay more for labor on projects
and putting profitability in jeopardy. "
Educating the Next Gen Workforce
" [There's] great career opportunities
that exist in this industry, [but it] exists
in a bubble, " LeBlanc states. " Those of
us who are inside the bubble know how
great it is...[how] rewarding a career in
this industry can be. But nobody outside
Commercial Integrator MARCH 2022
of the bubble would consider a career in
something called 'integration' because
they don't quite know. "
" Too many people just don't know
about it, " LeBlanc continues. " If they
don't know about it, they're not going to
pursue it. As an industry, we're going to
miss out on an incredibly large group of
promising individuals. It also means that
we're going to limit ourselves to those
that are already aware of this industry. "
He acknowledges, of course, that the
professionals who already comprise the
industry are fantastic. " But we need to
think beyond that, " he adds.
" It takes all of us - not just NSCA, "
Thorne emphasizes. " It takes every single
integrator to start educating. " As goes
without saying, these issues rise in importance
far above day-to-day competitive
concerns; after all, recruiting and educating
the next-generation workforce is about
securing our industry's future. " If that fails,
we're going to fail, " Thorne admits bluntly.
" We have to make sure we work hand in
hand to...educate the students in high
schools and in our local trade schools. "
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Commercial Integrator March 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Commercial Integrator March 2022

Commercial Integrator March 2022 - Cover1
Commercial Integrator March 2022 - Cover2
Commercial Integrator March 2022 - 1
Commercial Integrator March 2022 - 2
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