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The need for compulsory certification - why electronic systems industry growth means new membership requirements for CEDIA ESPs (1/9/2007)
By Matt Nimmons, CEDIA
CEDIA (the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association) is continuing its commitment to driving the custom installation industry forward by raising the bar on CEDIA membership with the introduction of mandatory certification. CEDIA's new requirement, which will come into effect from 31 January 2008, will mean that all full-member companies will have to have at least one CEDIA-certified employee on their staff.
Over the last few years we have seen an unprecedented growth in residential electronics systems contracting, with CEDIA Region 1 membership increasing accordingly. If we want to continue to lead in this growing and increasingly competitive market, then we need to be at the forefront of the drive towards higher standards, both as perceived by the public and within the industry. Setting the standards and having all members meet these standards will be a strong benefit as the industry continues to develop. Increasing the skill set within our member companies will also give them a distinct competitive advantage over non-members.
Through this growth, the one constant for CEDIA has been to continue to strive to offer members greater value through its membership. Mandatory certification will provide ESP (Electronic Systems Professional) member companies with value and credibility as they work with customers. Builders, plumbers, gas fitters, architects, structural engineers, electricians and quantity surveyors all have a legal obligation to study and pass their own recognised qualifications. To be seen as professionals within the construction industry, we must begin to implement our own qualifications.
Public perception of qualified professionals is very strong. When people think of gas fitters, they instantly recognise that all gas engineers must be CORGI registered. CEDIA will be putting a lot of effort into increasing the public and specifiers' awareness that our ESP members are qualified. This will strengthen the public's perception that CEDIA members offer a higher level of professionalism than non-members. CEDIA is also committed to working with government to try and create recognised standards that will drive the custom integration sector of the construction industry forwards. To do this, we must be seen to already have a structured path to setting our own industry standards.
As from the next membership year, i.e. February 2008, every UK CEDIA Electronic Systems Professional member company has to have at least one current holder of either CEDIA Installer Level One, Installer Level Two or Designer Level One certification.
To help members get their staff certified, CEDIA is running a Certification Roadshow with a series of events around the country. Experienced staff may attend a two-day certification review and exam session. This option is available for both Installer Level One and Designer Level One and is only suitable for experienced candidates who already feel comfortable with the relevant curricula. Newcomers or less experienced staff can attend a one-week course leading up to Installer Level One or Designer Level One certification exams. The Designer course does assume at least one year's experience.
Once an individual is certified, they have a requirement to obtain 30 Continuing Education Units over a three-year period following the passing of the exam. All CEDIA courses, and an increasing number of trade supplier courses, are eligible for CEU points. To get a course CEU approved, the trade supplier must submit it to the CEDIA Education Manager for assessment. On approval, a certificate is issued detailing the CEU allocation for the course.
Members who fail to meet the new membership requirements will have their membership status reduced to provisional. Provisional members are not listed in any CEDIA publicity material and are not allowed to use the CEDIA logo on any company materials. If the only certified individual leaves a member company, members have 6 months to find a CEDIA-certified replacement or to have another existing member of staff certified. After this period, those not employing a CEDIA-certified individual, will have their membership status changed to provisional.
With the countdown to certification well and truly on, we look forward to the next exciting chapter. Currently, the new rules will only apply to UK members, as this will allow us to roll out certification to the rest of Region 1 and the many languages and local regulations that this entails. By applying measures of best practice, CEDIA and its members will gain enhanced credibility and be ideally placed to maximise the growth potential in the industry. We feel strongly that certification will be a unifying experience; an initiative that will ensure that all members are working towards the same goals, and then together we can take the industry from strength to strength.
To find out more about the CEDIA Certification Roadshow dates and venues, or to find out about each curriculum and book your place, visit the website below and select 'Education' from the menu, and then choose 'Book CEDIA Training'.
Matt Nimmons is the Operations Director for CEDIA UK.
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