When it comes to training why is the two-way industry on the wrong frequency?

Andrew Roberts, managing director of Avoira, asks why companies and academic institutions are failing to offer quality training.

I owe my career to two institutions: Bolton College and Avoira.

When I was a fresh-faced youngster the college arranged an apprenticeship at Pennine Telecom. At the business which would become Avoira, I took to the radio servicing desk, eager but, in terms of two-way radio, ignorant.

It may not have seemed it at the time, but that really was a milestone moment. Nurtured by the company I developed and broadened my skills and confidence. It was an education that would enable me to progress to lead first Pennine and now Avoira, a soon-to-be £27m communications business.

I’ve always been grateful for that career leg-up and sought to repay the debt. Today I’m chair of governors at the college and advised on the creation of its state-of-the art STEM Centre.

I’m a keen advocate of skills-based education and training. This might be informed by my own experience, but it also makes massive business sense.

Plotting a career path

Equipping people with new skills and ensuring they keep pace with technological developments means they can deliver better customer service, find their role more rewarding and plot a career path with their employer. This means they’re also more likely to stay loyal, their experience increasing productivity and customer satisfaction whilst minimising recruitment costs.

So why is the industry not doing more to entice and develop new talent?

We at Avoira may offer structured apprenticeship schemes and personal development plans, but we sadly appear to be very much in the minority.

And whilst I am immensely proud of the investment Avoira make in continuous training programmes, it saddens me that there is no academic path to formal qualifications for radio professionals.

Maintain professional skills

The Federation of Communication Services gets it. The industry-wide association’s Ethical Code of Business Practice demands that ”Members ensure that staff receive appropriate training, are encouraged to obtain relevant qualifications and maintain their professional skills.”

Failure to do so can result in expulsion from the FCS. But that may not be the highest price to pay. Good engineers are always in demand so the recruitment market is competitive.

Those companies that invest in training and skills development will clearly be more attractive to a candidate, than those that do not.

If you’re an aspiring radio engineer, why would you choose an employer that’s not going to keep you up to speed on, say, the latest digital two-way technologies? Or isn’t going to help you develop your skill set to embrace convergence of telephony and unified communications platforms?

Invest for the best

The same lack of appeal will extend too to organisations looking to partner a two-way communications service provider. They want the best people armed with the best knowledge and skills.

I would contend that this has been keen to Avoira’s success in a market which we arguably lead. Our engineers are enjoying meeting the challenges presented on the world’s largest construction site, Hinkley Point C where we’ve installed and support a DMR Tier 3 trunked radio network.

That’s just one of many prestigious projects and organisations we serve. Because we invest for the best, we can attract clients such as Bristol Airport, Manchester City Football Club, the NHS, Sellafield, Sodexo.

Our engineers being right at the technological cutting edge, is also why we were the first in the world to deploy a Motorola Mototrbo Capacity Max system.

Here a question for you then. You’re looking for a job. One company has a great client list and is committed to investing in your career. The other simply wants you to plug a hole, to plod along. Which way would you jump?

Yes, that is rhetorical.

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