The lack of training in electronic security doesn’t bode well for the IT transition, either. The industry’s pitiful stock of qualified techs are drawn through Cert III Electrotechnology courses driven by integrators and installers. There’s virtually no IP content in this course beyond a nod in its general direction meaning many installers have to be trained in IP by manufacturers or distributors. The concept of a dedicated IP security course is clearly a pipe dream. That’s an opium pipe dream. 
There are clearly very few apprentices around given the chatter among integrators who can regularly be overheard bemoaning the dreadful quality of the industry’s techs. It’s generally agreed that getting capable installers or technical people of any stripe is practically impossible – the result being poaching from competitors with all the vitriol that goes along with it.  
Furthermore, as the industry’s technical people get older and become more senior, they become more expensive, which makes start-ups harder than ever to get off the ground. You don’t have to look far to see that in the electronic security industry to see plentiful chiefs and no warriors.  
The reasons for the lack of good techs are pretty obvious when you take a look at the viscous timeline of that Cert III in Technical Security course I mentioned earlier. For a technical training course to take 13 years to implement is bloody awful. At the rate of one tech every 13 years the future of the industry looks uncertain to say the least.  
In another gloomy sign of manufacturer’s frustrations towards installer capabilities, I was recently informed by 2 separate IP video makers that the focus of an entire line of products was to ensure installers would have to do no thinking whatever in relation to installation. Simply attach the device and the system will ‘do all the rest’. Seemingly, when it comes to IP, our techs are flat out just connecting an RJ-45 plug – anything more than this utterly confounds them. 
Nor are installers required to backfocus cameras, measure light levels or select lenses. They can even ignore zone voltages – there are new alarm communicators do all that for them. It’s great technology but hardly inspiring stuff when it comes to the development of capable installers.  
This month in our monitoring feature I talked about the challenges the industry faces as PSTN is phased out and when thinking about this I was struck by a bit of news from the US, where there’s 18 per cent penetration of monitored alarms into the domestic market. 
According to researchers, the advent and growth of Internet-based security systems will expand the residential security market 40 per cent from $US10 billion to $18 billion over the next 8 years. Same as Australia, fibre broadband, VoIP and widespread use of cell phones is making POTS lines untenable and they are being shut down. 
The result is a shared broadband comms network that will bring opportunities for monitoring companies and manufacturers alike. Research shows that a third of U.S. consumers who have broadband at home would be very interested in remote control of lights, appliances and thermostats, while 50 per cent want email and text notification of intrusion, smoke, fire, water and gas leaks in their home. Yeah – that’s right – 50 per cent. 
Given the fact most grownups have smartphones and exponentially increasing numbers have netbooks and tablet PCs, as well as day-long access to workstations, it should be no surprise there are going to be opportunities for those capable of exploiting these new niches the retirement of PSTN will throw our way.
The question for us is who will meet the needs of tomorrow’s consumers when it comes to the Australian market? Will there be any techs capable of answering the call or will other industries be required to provide qualified installers to meet the needs of integrators and end users?