Department of Labor Update - March 2006
InfoComm has been working with the Department of Labor to ensure that those who are looking to enter a career in technology are aware of the various employment options offered by the audiovisual industry. As a result, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has included InfoComm as a source of additional information in the online Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) statement on broadcast and sound engineering technicians and radio operators. The handbook can be viewed at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos109.htm. For more information contact Betsy Jaffe, InfoComm Director of Public Relations at email@example.com.
Findings of white paper explain apprenticeship, licensure and certification issues, clarifies the usage of SOC codes
FAIRFAX, Va. -- InfoComm International®, the trade association representing the professional AV and information communications industries worldwide, has released a white paper aimed at demystifying government regulations concerning industry licensure, certification and apprenticeships. The white paper was independently researched and developed by the New York-based law firm, Clifton Budd & DeMaria, LLP.
The white paper concludes that apprenticeship programs are generally established by federal or state law, and training programs leading to apprenticeship are heavily regulated and enforced by both the government and the unions providing training in compliance with applicable laws. As employees progress through apprenticeship training, their wages generally progress according to a scale, with an increase and specified rate being awarded upon successful conclusion of the program. Apprenticeship status and union membership are generally considered to be synonymous.
Certification is an often voluntary process that acknowledges that an individual has demonstrated a level of knowledge and skill required in a profession or skill set. AV industry certifications include the InfoComm CTS, which in 2005 was awarded recognition by the National Certification Commission (NCC). This certification specifically addresses knowledge and skills in the science and technology used in communications including audio, video, display and electronic systems. Technicians, engineers, designers, salespeople, customer service personnel, managers and executives in the industry are appropriate professionals for this certification.
The paper clearly notes that neither the Davis Bacon Act on the federal level, nor related state laws, require employers to hire apprentices. “Since apprenticeship issues are normally raised in a union context, the question of whether or not an AV employer is required to hire an apprentice is a function of its collective bargaining agreement and negotiations over staffing with the union,” said Alfred T. DeMaria, Esq., a labor and employment law attorney and long-time member of the Certification Committee of the Electronic Science Technology Association.
The paper cautions against implementing any new regulations seeking to require AV employers to institute apprenticeship programs, as all apprentices must meet stringent requirements established by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Apprenticeship Training or a parallel state apprenticeship agency recognized by DOL. “Apprenticeships are just one of many options for employers seeking to ensure a skilled base of employees. Our firm has never encountered a situation in which having apprentices has assisted employers in obtaining new business,” said DeMaria. “All levels of government should avoid instituting any required apprenticeship programs, as the regulatory requirements would be unnecessarily burdensome.”
The paper also clarified that classifications of trainees and apprentices have no connection to DOL’s Standard Occupational Classification Codes (SOC). ”We do not believe that utilizing SOC codes has any relevance to acquiring new business or marketing the AV employer’s services,” said DeMaria.
To view a complete copy of the white paper, please click here.
SOC Codes - Background and AV-specific SOC codes
In 2000, the SOC System was developed cooperatively by U.S. Federal agencies in response to a growing need for a universal occupational classification system. The system enables government agencies and private industry to produce comparable occupational data across agencies.
However, while SOC codes may be useful for federal agencies to collect and compare occupational data, there is no relationship between SOC codes and certification, apprenticeships or licensure. To date there is no general requirement for employees of an AV provider to be certified by any organization, although companies are turning to certification for marketing purposes.
As the need to establish competitive advantage has grown, employers and employees have obtained certification through industry associations, reflecting a general movement toward more sophisticated marketing approaches as the industry matures.
InfoComm International’s Certified Technology Specialist (CTS) designations at general and advanced levels of design and installation are the longest-standing certifications for the audiovisual, electronics systems and information communications industries, and the InfoComm Certified AudioVisual Solutions Provider (CAVSP) status is the only company-level certification available to date.
In a rapidly growing market that was determined by the association to be worth $19 billion in North America alone in 2004, AV equipment and services are now heavily in demand in business, government, education, retail, worship, healthcare, entertainment, sports, museums and the hospitality industry.
As the association representing manufacturers, dealers, systems integrators, rental and staging professionals, independent design consultants, presentation professionals, independent programmers, and technology manager end users, InfoComm has invested heavily in an international end-user-focused awareness campaign to support individual companies’ marketing of their CTS and CAVSP status. Over 4,000 individuals have obtained InfoComm certification to date, and evidence exists that bids are recognizing InfoComm certification as a desired qualification for AV systems installations.
AV industry SOC codes
To ensure that any future relationship between SOC codes and the AV industry be properly established, InfoComm International recently applied for and obtained specific “Association/Industry Derived codes” as a subset of the major group 27-4000 Media and Communications Equipment Workers.
Audiovisual professionals now have a specialized code recognizing their industry through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Standard Occupational Classifications (SOC) code structure. Now, under 27- 4011 Audio and Video Equipment Technicians, the following subsets have been created to more accurately reflect the occupations for the AV industry:
27-4011.00A Audiovisual Communications Installation Technician
27-4011.00B Audiovisual Communications Systems Designer
27-4011.00C Audiovisual Communications Rental & Staging Technician
While the DeMaria paper explains that AV employers seeking to establish new offices or to supply services in a new venue may find the DOL’s Bureau of Labor Statistics helpful in indicating the labor supply in the area, it does not find the relevance of SOC codes to acquiring new business or marketing the AV employer’s services. However, he recommends that if AV employers receive forms from agencies requesting a SOC code, the above codes should be listed as appropriate. Over time, this practice will assist the government in tracking more information about the AV industry and it will help establish AV professional occupations as unique and distinct.
At the same time, InfoComm International has submitted the AV SOC codes for inclusion in the 2006-2007 editions of the DOL Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, and they will be included in the current category, 27-4010 Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians and Radio Operators, which includes 27-4011 Audio and Video Equipment Technicians. The association also updated the description within the category to present a more current view of AV jobs. Defining careers in the AV industry is part of InfoComm’s ongoing mission to develop the industry’s future workforce and establish its legitimacy to those outside the industry.
For Human Resources professionals, the SOC codes may be useful in comparing internal job equity, as well as for comparisons with external equity (i.e., rates paid by other AV employers for comparable classifications). On the other hand, the findings determined that there was no real benefit in using SOC codes with respect to Workers Compensation insurance premiums.
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