As TV networks, media and entertainment companies report difficulties replacing a generation of retiring engineers and technologists, the recent TV Tech Summit featured a session focused on the importance of building technology teams more diverse, with experts offering practical advice for finding the next generation of talent. .
The question is important because the tech industry, in general, has long had a poor record in terms of diversity and because the television industry, in particular, needs to find a new generation who can help it be more competitive in terms of streaming, mobile and digital media. With ample research showing that African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and young women are far more active on digital media than the general population, these groups offer businesses the type of talent they need to strengthen their position competitive.
One of the problems in attracting this talent is that many young people are unaware of the opportunities offered by the television industry and are more likely to seek work in big tech or in corporate IT departments, noted the panelists.
“Today you need to step up your recruiting efforts,” said Nikki Bethel, president and CEO of the Emma Bowen Foundation. “Gone are the days when everyone came to you. There are too many fish in the sea to think you can just be the big bear and watch all the salmon come. You need to think about partnerships” and make a real, carefully planned effort to “be in the trenches to attract the fish.” Talent.”
In this environment, companies also need to step up their efforts to educate people about the many opportunities available in the television industry, Michelle Duke, chief diversity officer and president of the NAB Leadership Foundation, added to National Broadcasters Association.
“When most people think of local radio and television in general, they think of what they can see on the screen or what they can hear on the platform they are using,” she said. declared. But there’s all this “technology involved that goes beyond that.” When we go to conferences, we meet these engineering students who ask us “why are you here” because “none of us want to be filmed”. And we say, “No, you have to understand that there are so many other important things going on behind the camera. »So there is an element of education that needs to take place in the industry.
Jim Ragsdale, executive director of the Society of Broadcast Engineers, added that long-term technology trends have automated and eliminated many older entry-level jobs where young people once started.
“I have been with SPE for three years and heard from day one from broadcasters, state broadcast associations and individual engineers that there was a desperate need for talented broadcast engineers in the ‘industry… As I started speaking to individual sections… one person came up to me and said, “We don’t have an agricultural system. We don’t have any development or organization or program to develop talent like we used to (because) now we have much smaller staffing at the broadcast stations and we’re not developing that entry level in broadcast engineering.
To overcome these and other obstacles that make recruiting talent difficult, the panelists presented a series of practical steps companies and resorts can take.
A key area is better awareness. “We started talking with locals about doing field trips or getting involved with middle school STEM teachers,” Ragsdale said. “And we’ve found that high schools and some member states are doing a fantastic job developing high school broadcast engineering talent. Indiana, for example, has an Indiana Association of School Broadcasters and they have over 70 high school radio programs and another 20, say, in video production. This is the kind of success we need to develop.
Duke added that the industry must also step up its efforts to train and develop talent. “Other industries are eating our lunch because they will invest money in training instead of expecting them to walk in the door and be able to perform as well as the chief engineer even s “They are in an inferior position,” she said.
In response, NAB and the NAB Leadership Foundation established a technology apprenticeship program and other programs. As part of this effort, the company has worked with stations in smaller markets that may not have the financial means to train entry-level people.
“Another bottleneck I hear often is ‘no one wants to move to my small town,’” Duke said. “I think they are neglecting the opportunity to develop their talent, the talent is in their own backyard. We did some research with students and (found that)….Students generally choose…their first job based on where they did their internship. But when we asked the stations if they offered internships, they all said no.
This opens up the possibility of working with schools to create a program for students to come in and participate during the summer, she said.
Bethel added that in general, resorts and companies need to become much more “intentional” in their efforts to build a more diverse workforce by thinking outside the box and creating new programs that attract workers.
For example, Bethel said younger students of color might be reluctant to move to a smaller, less ethnically diverse town. But businesses can overcome this problem by demonstrating how a station located in a rural market could provide them with the training and opportunities they need to advance their careers.
“It’s about being intentional,” she said. “It’s not that talent doesn’t exist. If we were intentional around money, because it costs to invest in them and pay them… and show them what the return on investment results can be for (them) personally and for the organization “, they could recruit people. they need.
More practical tips and resources on recruiting the next generation of tech talent are available by registering for the free virtual summit and viewing the session on demand, here.