Over the summer I had the opportunity to work with some middle-school and high-school students who attended a camp to help them prepare for their upcoming scholastic athletic seasons. The camp focused on running, and many of the participants will be joining their schools’ cross-country teams in the fall. For those cross-country runners I had a message that I intended to be both encouraging and practical: Summertime training is not meant to prepare you for end-of-season championship meets, but rather is meant to prepare you to begin the season. Once these runners’ seasons officially get underway, their coaches will have a long-term plan for getting them to reach their athletic peak at just the right time for championship meets. They don’t have to be at their best now. But the work they do in the summer will allow them to begin the season—and subsequently end the season—at a higher performance level than they would without having done that training.
As I was enjoying these camp sessions with up-and-coming athletes, we at Cabling Installation & Maintenance were collecting data from many of you about employment, hiring, and training in the information and communications technology (ICT) trade. As it turns out, my words to those teenage cross-country runners very well could apply to us in ICT as well. We’ll have complete data from our survey in an upcoming issue, but I’ll use the space and time I have here to provide a glimpse into what we have found, preliminarily.
With nearly 500 responses to our survey, more than half of respondents had hired or attempted to hire one or more new workers within the previous 12 months. Of those who had made at least one hire (or tried to), 44% said that candidates who applied were unqualified or underqualified for the job opening(s). By contrast, 5% said most or all applicants were overqualified for the position(s) being filled.
In another part of the survey, we learned that 7% of respondents plan to retire from the industry in the next 1 to 2 years. And more than 50% plan to be retired within 10 years. That last statistic lends gravity to the soapbox I climbed on … I mean … to the issue I discussed in this space last issue—capturing the expertise of our industry’s most-seasoned workers so it does not leave the industry when they do. Thank you to those of you who emailed me to let me know you’re willing to pass along your knowledge.
Like a teenage cross-country runner, a new entrant into the ICT industry doesn’t have to be ready for the trade’s biggest challenges immediately. But they do have to be ready to begin, which they can be through training and effort leading up to day one. From there, good coaching and mentoring, along with more training and effort, can guide them to a lifetime of professional achievements.