OUR FUTURE: NEW TALENT,
Ron Couch, AHC, CFDAI – Former President of DHI
AS I REFLECT ON MY YEAR AS PRESIDENT OF THE DHI BOARD OF GOVERNORS, I CANNOT HELP BUT THINK ABOUT MY HISTORY IN THE INDUSTRY AND ITS FUTURE: Ron Couch, AHC, CFDAI – Former President of DHI
I have been a DHI member since 1987 and have seen many changes over 30-plus years, but those changes will likely pale in comparison to what our industry will experience during the next few years. DHI was integral to my training in products and applications and was crucial to achieving industry credentials and certifications. But times are changing.
Many in my generation have been exiting our industry through retirement, and this will accelerate during the next five years. A rather significant labor and knowledge gap will need to be filled with new talent, and those candidates will need training. However, training will require using different techniques (both in delivery and content) than my generation’s training. There are two main drivers of the needed change: 1) scope of work (expanded products and services) and 2) customer demands and expectations.
Most markets have seen a significant change in scope of work and project complexity during the past few years. Projects now almost always have increased product coordination and complexity with access control, automation, new smart integrated devices and enhanced security solutions. Along with expanded product offerings, there are increased service capabilities such as pre-installation/prefabrication, field installation and full turnkey options for our scope of work.
Projects are also moving much faster and require more coordination with other trades and suppliers, especially when installation is involved. Simultaneously, general contractors are moving to a more variable labor model or are shifting to a construction management approach, both of which require increased dependency on the expertise of their subcontractors and suppliers to provide products and services.
All this presents both a challenge and an opportunity. As an industry, we need to fill our resource gap by attracting new talent. Potential candidates will need to be engaged in ways that are meaningful and resonate with their values and worklife balance expectations. Many will want to understand how we make a difference in our companies, communities and what we are doing to improve diversity and inclusion.
DHI can help script that story. Historically, our industry has saved countless lives with the products and consultation services we have brought to the architectural and building owner communities. Now, with our advocacy efforts, we are able to impact legislation and help bring about laws that help enhance and improve the safety and security of public spaces, such as our work in K-12 schools. Promoting our industry and articulating how we are creating real value, and providing societal benefit is a story that DHI can help express, promote and communicate.
In order for DHI to help deliver more training to more industry members in a faster and more efficient way than we have historically, much needs to be done. Existing content will need to be reworked to enable increased flexible learning opportunities (such as online self-study and instructor-led modules) and new content will need to be created for the expanded challenges of our broadening scope.
During the pandemic, our self-paced and online offerings significantly expanded, and DHI shifted quickly to provide additional content. This has allowed our training to happen whenever and wherever the students are. As DHI Executive Director Cedric Calhoun says, “We are meeting our students where they are.” The other major benefit of efficient, flexible and cost-effective learning opportunities is that our industry can reach deeper into our organizations and train our staffs for promotion opportunities. We have viewed this as one of the best ways to fill the talent and labor gap to enhance our culture.
When internal candidates are not available, DHI can help build and communicate that compelling message to draw talent into our industry. We can help build this talent pipeline and support our industry with a multifaceted approach using messaging across social media, website content and videos. This approach can focus not just on the products and services we provide, but also on how we help keep the general public safe and secure. Our industry makes significant contributions, and we need to be sure we are effectively promoting that message.
There is a lot of work to be done, and DHI staff is certainly up for the challenge of continued improvement. For us to pioneer this new content and message, we will need to call on the passionate and skilled volunteers within our industry. Be on the lookout for opportunities to help our industry grow and develop in this quickly evolving marketplace
This column appeared in the May 2022 issue of Door Security + Safety magazine, published by DHI.
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