Employee retention is top of mind now more than ever, with labor shortages and “The Great Recession” making headlines daily. Employers concerned about turnover can look to training programs to boost their employees’ level of job satisfaction and build trust that they are committed to their employees’ future. A 2021 study by Lorman Education Services reported that 34% of employees who leave a job say they were motivated to do so by being offered more career development opportunities. When it comes to some of the youngest members of the workforce, 86% of millennials say they would stay in their current position if training and development were offered by their employer.
Michelle Yungblut is Chief Training Officer for ESA, leading ESA’s training and certification programs. “In the last four months, we’ve had more companies coming to us inquiring about a customized training program than we’ve had in the past,” she remarks. “I think this surge is happening because companies are struggling to find employees and also keep up with the demand from clients. When they get busy on the recruiting side and the work side, they don’t have time for the training side.”
ESA has been well-prepared to meet the increased need for training with its Training as a Service (TaaS) program, launched in 2019. The program provides easy-to-use, affordable training to ESA member companies, with buildable curricula that can be customized for each company or each employee. The TaaS program is the first of its kind in the industry, with more than 400 students enrolled in the program to date.
TaaS helps onboard new employees as well as advance existing employees and reinforce career paths. Many companies are using the TaaS program to directly address turnover issues. “Employee retention increases when companies provide a nice career path for their employees,” Yungblut explains. Companies who invest in training programs typically see improvement in employee retention, especially when professional development is tied to a reward system, such as becoming eligible for a raise or a promotion.
Guided by Industry Experts
Part of the effectiveness of TaaS stems from its origins, when the ESA board of directors and executive committee members came together to give feedback on their biggest business challenges. “ESA had been getting survey results saying that training was one of our members’ biggest pain points,” recalls Yungblut. “But when we got the chance to hear more, we realized we needed to build a pathway of training and gain a better understanding of what new hires don’t know.”
From there, ESA put together a task force of six operations managers and used their input to build the TaaS program. “These were people who are in charge of getting the technical work done, in charge of the techs, and making sure techs were meeting customer needs,” Yungblut says. “We asked them, ‘what do you want your techs to know in their first six months?’”
These insights not only revealed what these operations managers’ pain points were, but also provided a snapshot of what was happening in the electronic security industry at large. Matt Milam, director of training and certification programs at ESA, speaks to how TaaS helps companies keep up with the competition. “We have a lot of information on the needs and wants of what the industry is looking for,” he says. “We can guide our members through the same process that we’ve seen other companies in the industry need and use, helping companies learn from the successes of the other people out there.”
Personalized and Flexible Modules
The training modules are designed to be administered in-house by the employer, with a learning management portal that lets managers track progress of trainees. The program includes three pathways (see sidebar): ESA Systems Technician (tier 1), ESA Systems Specialist (tier 2), and ESA Security Sales Associate. The tech courses cover technical training, safety skills, and industry trends, with education that is not specific to particular brands or manufacturers. Trainees can also learn soft skills such as handling difficult customers, project management, diversity training, harassment in the workforce, and communication. In addition, more than 20 states have approved ESA courses to meet or maintain licensing requirements.
The Sales Associate pathway consists of area-of-focus selling classes on how to sell certain categories of products: intrusion systems, fire systems, access control, or video surveillance. “Each of those categories have their own unique challenges and needs, so we teach them how to sell to those,” explains Milam. “We don’t need to teach them to be a technician, we just want to teach them the basics. You can teach someone to pass the written portion of a driver’s ed test, and not be able to drive a car, and that’s what we’re trying to do: give them the conceptual knowledge without the practicum.”
ESA also provides member savings programs for TaaS. Pat Allen, director of compliance and business development for ESA, notes, “Members can purchase online training in bulk as well as CEU hourly bundles. This doesn’t require them to enroll in a specific tier – they can instead meet their training needs by enrolling employees in individual courses periodically.”
To provide further customization, TaaS includes elective courses, which “let companies pick and choose based on what markets they are involved in and what the individual they’re training already knows or needs more help with,” says Allen. “This gives them a lot of flexibility.”
Addressing Varied Skillsets
This flexibility allows companies to meet the needs of a workforce that represents a range of skillsets and levels of experience. This was particularly appealing to ADT Commercial, remarks Yungblut. “Once they realized the variety of skillsets employees were actually coming to them with, they decided to change up their training. They wanted even more customization and flexibility, taking factors into consideration such as where they are located and states’ requirements for licensed training.” ADT Commercial also aligned their certification strategy with ESA’s CAT Level 1 Certification program.
“With the help and support of ESA, our training department has made wonderful strides to foster an environment of training and development, deepening our employees’ knowledge and skills, as well as bettering their training experience,” comments Casey Williams, Senior Commercial Training Manager at ADT Commercial. “Through our continued partnership with ESA, we have been able to continue to deliver on our mission statement, ‘Powered by experience, driven by excellence.’”
Investing in training that can be customized based on individual trainees’ level of experience shows employees that their needs and hopes for career advancement are important. Training as a Service also alleviates the burden from internal teams to ensure that employees are trained and meeting licensing and compliance regulations. From listening to member needs, understanding industry trends, and creating flexible options, ESA built a training program designed to help member companies succeed – and bolster the security industry workforce as a whole.
Tier 1: ESA Systems Technician
- 69 hours of training
- Core skills
- Designed for trainees with 0-6 months employment
- Entry-level courses that cover basic skills such as communication, employability, safety, and foundational industry knowledge
- Can choose 22 hours of electives
Tier 2: ESA Systems Specialist
- 80 hours of training
- Intermediate skills
- Designed for trainees with 6-18 months of employment
- Courses include “Troubleshooting, service and maintenance” and NTS technical courses
- Some companies tie Tier 2 this to in-house advancement
ESA Security Sales Associate
- 34 hours of training
- Core skills
- 0-24 months of employment
- Courses serve as an intro to electronic security, including “Understanding Electronic Security Systems,” “Selling Commercial Intrusion / Fire / Access / Video,” etc.
Employee Training Stats
- 61% of adults in the United States seek career development opportunities when considering job opportunities.
- Nearly 59% of employees claim they have no workplace training and that most of their skills were self-taught.
- 74% of workers are willing to learn new skills or re-train so they can remain employable.
- Only 29% of employees are “very satisfied” with their current career advancement opportunities available within their organization.
Source: Lorman Education Services