The Importance of Introducing Young People to the AV Industry

While attending several AV industry events this year, I have been witness to some consistent remarks that particularly resonated with me. All were constructive in their intent, yet the associated emotion ranged the gamut of curiosity, concern, and alarm. Each of these instances stemmed from a basic realization that there were no new faces in the room and the average age in the industry is increasing rather than decreasing each year.

Simply put, where are the young people in the AV industry?

It is critical for the AV industry look toward become more inviting to young people. The future of our trade, the success of organizations, and the legacy of veteran AV professionals are all impacted by the availability and investment in the next generation of AV enthusiasts. Although technical roles are obviously critical in the AV industry’s ability to continue to provide value and serve clients’ needs roles in the area of sales, marketing, management, administrative, and finance are all essential for organizations to be successful and provide long term sustainability.

Millennials already comprise the largest segment in the workforce, so why is the AV industry not getting any younger?

In a time where technology is changing at a faster pace than ever, the opportunity to learn from a younger generation exists. Many veteran AV professionals are not digital natives. Their need to learn and keep up with the industry evolution can be aided by investing in the availability of Millennial and Gen Z workers for whom computer and networking technology, mobile devices, websites, video streaming, social media, and coding are an inherent skill rather than a second language.

As more businesses are either entirely comprised of Millennials and Gen Z or have elevated these younger workers to leadership roles, the AV industry like many others will need to learn to adapt to a younger way of thinking. The success of organizations in the AV industry will hinge on the ability to understand, relate to, and engage with Millennials and Gen Zers as clients in order to gain their trust and business.

With the rising pressure for simpler, less custom solutions, AV professionals and organizations will need to be thinking differently and be ready to adapt to new users and changing needs. Those organizations that have Millennials and Gen Zers on their teams may find themselves with an inside track for understanding what is important to younger clients, users, and members of the workforce allowing them to make the adjustments needed to ensure solutions and services are modern and effective.

In an industry that had not seen a radical change until the transition from analog to digital the impact of mobile, networking, simplicity of soft-codecs, and consumerization of professional AV is causing a lot of disruption. Many organizations find themselves in a challenging position to reinvent themselves and struggle to find the opportunities in a new environment. Companies embracing new ideas and the fresh perspectives that are served up by younger generations can be better prepared to succeed. Although the knowledge and direction of industry veterans has paved the way to present success, the insight of newcomers will be vital to future prosperity.

Lastly, it becomes the duty of industry veterans to someday pass the torch and share their knowledge with the next generation of AV professionals before they move on to the next phase in their career or life. Organizations with succession plans that are seeking and grooming the next generation to take the reins, will find their value growing and ability to sustain themselves increasing. Clients want to invest in partners that have a vision and plan for the future where they will be present and viable for many years to come.

If you are like me and are truly concerned about the need to bring young people into the industry, one way to take action is to support NSCA’s Ignite initiative. This is something that can be championed from the industry-wide level to the local level. The next best thing is to spread the word about the industry on a personal level.

Should you know anyone that is looking for any opportunity or would be interested in getting involved in the industry, please reach out to me, Steve Greenblatt, directly. We are looking to practice what we preach.

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