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Is it apathy or lack of interesting content?

A few months back I spoke with the country manager of a major manufacturer about the role they play in providing education to the industry. His answer was that with the way technology and product feature sets are changing in the industry, it really shouldn’t be a surprise that there has been a trend towards the manufacturer providing training on things like the evolution of home automation panels, IP video and access control from those who produce the product.


June 15, 2011
By Jennifer Brown

Manufacturers and distributors send us a considerable number of event listings throughout the year promoting their education sessions. The cynical might say it’s a good way to keep customers close and installers loyal to a product line. But if they aren’t providing education, who is?

In last week’s enewsletter, Ivan Spector, past director of education with the Canadian Security Association (CANASA) suggests the association is falling down in its role as a provider of education. So what should be the role of the association in the education of the industry it serves?

If you look at other associations in the security industry in Canada, such as ASIS, it exists almost entirely to educate its members and pushes its CPP, PSP, PCI certifications and has been successful in providing study groups to aid many in passing the difficult examination process for those certifications.

In the past, ASIS, together with CSIS and CANASA have provided education sessions at the Security Canada Central show in Toronto. But after experiencing poor attendance at the education sessions staged during last year’s show, the Canadian Security Association has decided to go with a significantly scaled-down education program during the October show. In part, some blame the decision to charge for education sessions last year.

It’s a shame because in Calgary at the end of May we saw how CANASA and ASIS can work together. It was there at the Tri-Lateral conference that a ballroom at the Deerfoot Inn was packed for two days of education sessions. Attendees paid $300 to attend seminars and the price included admission to the Expo.

There were sessions for physical and logical security end users as well as four manufacturer’s training sessions put on by Honeywell, Axis, Bosch and Automatic Systems.

CANASA executive director JF Champagne said the Toronto show in October will offer the Alarm Technician Course, Level 1 (ATC1) and Alarm Technician Course, Level 2 (ATC2), and Certified Security Project Manager (CSPM) course as well as “on the show floor” training sessions. Champagne says CANASA did reach out to partner with CEDIA last year but interest was lacking and the session cancelled.

What I think we are seeing is perhaps also a combination of apathy and time constraints on attendees. Others argue that lackluster education topics and poor speakers fuel apathy about attending sessions.
Employers have also cut back on training/education of their employees. Many security professionals must now pay for professional development out of their own pocket.

Critics point to the ASIS International show held every fall with its 180 sessions of education programming as an example of how education is done well. The difference with ASIS is that attendees receive four points towards certification for attending the show itself and then points for attending individual sessions and about 20,000 attendees — compare that to the 2,400 on average that attend the Toronto show. If you ask Canadian attendees they will probably also say they find it hard to find sessions that are relevant to them and not U.S.-centric.

So should CANASA develop a separate committee of members to develop a strategic education plan with input from all representatives of the industry? Are you getting your training online now or at U.S. shows? Let us know, because the only way to provide the industry what they want is to have a good idea of what is needed.