“Why should I invest in training my technicians if they are just going to leave and start a competitive company?”
That rhetorical question, or something very close to it, is a common refrain CE Pro hears from technologists across the country as to why they do not send their staff to educational sessions.
But judging from comments from attendees at the week-long Home Technology Specialists of America (HTSA) Accelerated EST Masterclass course held by Maverick Technical Institute (MTI) in Nashua, N.H., it’s a wonder that integrators are not lining up to send their technicians to training.
Several attendees who spoke with CE Pro gushed with pride about their company for sending them, and deemed the experience a valuable complement to in-the-field training.
The HTSA Masterclass course in November was the second one held by MTI after a successful launch in August. While the first class held in the summer featured a comprehensive training curriculum designed to advance the knowledge and professionalism of basic level installation technicians, the Fall class was a step-up with more hands-on training for rackbuilding and focus on more advanced applications such as fiber optic cable.
“The fact that my company sent me here tells me that they see me having a future with them,” says Bernie Durgin, an 18-month employee at Audio Video Systems in Westwood, Mass. “Sending me here tells me that they want me to excel, move up in the ranks at the company and possibly become a lead technician in the future.”
Like Durgin, Mike Szesnat with Hippo’s Home Entertainment, Albany, N.Y., was a second-time attendee to the Masterclass. “I have been [at Hippo’s] for three years now and coming here tells me that my boss wants me to know more. After the first class, my boss asked me what I learned. After I told him, he immediately brought up to me that there was a second class planned.”
Justin Schoresch of Barrett’s Technology Solutions in Naperville, Ill., was one of the most experienced of the 17 guys there. He has been with Barrett’s for 26 years.
“By sending me to this training, it obviously tells me that my company values my opinion. When I came back [from the August class] and presented what I had learned, there was no doubt that this second class would be beneficial and that it was absolutely worth it.”
Szesnat notes with pride, “Whether you are experienced or not, going to a class like this is an all-around good thing. For new guy who has been a technician for less than one year or for an experienced guy who has been doing this for 20 years, it is beneficial.”
The Fall class featured a mix of experienced and novice technicians, with seven attendees returning from the first course.
“Being asked to go to a class like this is huge,” says Jonathan King of Crescendo Systems on Long Island, N.Y. “It shows me that the company is willing to put forth the time and effort to invest in me. It shows me that they want me to grow along with the company.”
Phase II of the HTSA Masterclass featured a focus on rackbuilding, with pupils spending an entire day on that task. They also designed a home network from scratch, and received comprehensive training on fiber optic cable from Cleerline Technologies, including termination techniques.
Unanimously, the attendees who spoke with CE Pro planned to make presentations to their co-workers upon returning from the training. They also all said they would be recommending that their integration company owner send employees to the school.
“This training has been a huge benefit for me,” notes King. “I have only been in the field for 6 months. I learned a lot in the field from our lead technician. A lot of what he taught me matched up with what I heard here at MTI in the first class. But this second class has a lot of new information. For example, all the networking training is new to me. A lot of learning takes place when you bring together so many guys from the same field of work but all with different experiences. It is great.”
Szesnat says the most valuable part of this training is the interaction with other technicians from other companies. “They have a lot of experience. Just talking with them about what tools they use and what brands they like is valuable. In some cases, I will go back to my company recommending that we start using similar equipment,” he says.
Durgin says the learning environment in a classroom is much better than in the field.
“As a relatively new technician, it is nice to learn the skills in a learning environment vs. in the field where there is the additional pressure of doing the job. Here, you are in a classroom; you are not worried about clients; you are not worried about time-consuming tasks. You are just soaking in the information and applying what you have learned in the lab. You can take your time, not be nervous, talk to other technicians and exchange ideas,” says Durgin.
Szenat adds, “When you mess up here in the lab, everyone can laugh about it. There is no additional pressure.”
“I have been doing this for a long time, but I took five pages of notes every day,” says Schoresch, who gave a presentation to the rest of the staff at Barrett’s about what he learned while at MTI. “There is tremendous camaraderie among both the attendees and the instructors [at MTI]. The attitude of the instructors was so positive.”
King concludes, “As soon as I got back from the first training, I told my company that I wanted to come to the next one that had a focus on rack building. My company said, ‘Tell us the date and we will send you.’”
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