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Bridging the new skills gap

By Martin Parsons, interim training manager, IABM

There is no doubt that one of the biggest issues facing the industry is the need for training. Because the broadcast and media industry is shifting fast, people need to develop new skills.

This need is bi-directional. First, there are traditional broadcast companies that need to encourage their staff to get a grounding in new skills such as modern workflows and network management. Just as important are the businesses which now find themselves working in the broadcast sector, and need to take on the fundamentals of audio and video engineering, or even a basic understanding of what broadcasting is and how the industry is structured.

At IABM we have been delivering courses in business and technical areas for several years. As the only association that represents the broadcast and media technology supply industry worldwide, our courses were initially designed with vendors in mind, but many have proved popular with end-users too.

Typically courses have been run over two days, giving the right balance between including a worthwhile amount of information and minimising staff time away from the office. In special circumstances we run courses of different lengths: we recently created a special three day course which was offered over several dates to allow South African broadcaster MNet to put all its playout staff through it.

Our courses are delivered worldwide and include delivery with partners, for example, in conjunction with local distributor UBMS based in Dubai. To further our global expansion plans, a formal partnership has also been agreed with a leading Malaysian Direct Broadcast Satellite Pay TV service provider.

The partnership will see the broadcaster roll out the IABM training programme offering courses as a key part of its curriculum from its headquarters in Kuala Lumpur. Specialist instructors from the IABM Training Academy will deliver the initial part of the ‘Train the Trainer’ programme. The broadcaster’s own instructors will then use the acquired knowledge and expertise to teach three IABM courses this year, with a further four courses planned for 2016.

Another recent initiative has removed the geographical restrictions by putting new courses online. IABM is now delivering live online training, which retains the huge benefits of having an experienced and engaging tutor while still delivering the course at the student’s desk. The structure allows plenty of interaction, and even permits students to go into breakout groups for exercises.

Taking training online

The first virtual classroom course, on understanding modern file formats, ran twice in August, once in a timeslot suitable for European delegates, and once for those in North America. The course consisted of five separate two hour modules over four days. More live online and true e-learning courses will be added in due course.

At this year’s show we are capitalising on the success of our training programmes with the launch of a brand new half day workshop based around video compression, specifically looking at the High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) standard. The first session will be delivered on Thursday 10 September and will cover the reasons HEVC has been introduced, where it can be implemented, and an overview of the technology involved. Following IBC, a full programme of HEVC training courses will be released in the coming months throughout the UK, APAC and North American regions.

IABM is not the only body offering training, of course, and as a trade association we see our role as encouraging everyone in the industry to improve skills. Historically, when budgets are tight then training is one of the first things to be cut. But for an industry is such a state of flux, extending skills is essential to all businesses, and we are now seeing a rise in demand from those looking to bridge the skills gap.

Providing some recognition

We have always thought it important that the unique skills once attained by a broadcast and digital media technology engineer are fully recognised. Created by the IABM Educational Foundation engineers in our industry can now evidence their understanding and attainment through ‘Certified Broadcast and Media Technologist’ certification.

This Certification is open to all. There are no pre-requisites and interested parties can simply view the syllabus for each examination and decide whether to apply based on their own experience, self-study or by attending a relevant training course. The IABM Training Academy runs courses relevant to each of the certification examinations available.

Examinations can be taken anywhere, at any time, at work or at home, provided there is a reasonable internet connection available and the exam rules can be satisfied. The take up has more than doubled in the last six months compared to the previous six months and there are now 64 broadcast and media technologists registered in the scheme.

There are now Certificants at the Associate, Practitioner and Professional levels. We are creating a measurable skills standard for the industry to help both employer and employee alike take full advantage of the opportunities that are available.

For further information visit