Dear Leaders in I.A.T.S.E.,
It was a pleasure to meet many of you at the Convention, and for those of you I didn’t not have the chance to speak with, I hope we have the opportunity in the future.
Trying to convince your members why they should become Certified?
I have been asked by many in the last few weeks how they can communicate the importance of ETCP Certification to their membership and my friend Tom McLean with Local 58 in Toronto has written a spectacular piece that may help you in your endeavors. The article is as follows:
One Word – Opportunity
by Tom McLean, IATSE Local 58
When I think of one word that encompasses the ETCP I think it comes down to opportunity!
- To raise the IATSE brand to a higher level of excellence.
- To motivate us to keep on learning and always reach for excellence.
- To use as a guide for setting Education & Training curriculum within our apprentice programs.
- To establish education funding with our employers through our collective agreements.
- For personnel and collective recognition by a third party independent agency.
- To get ahead of the curve if (when) legislation or our employers demand this certification as a standard.
- To make a safer workplace for all of us. More people aware, more eyes, …
- To achieve higher remuneration and better working conditions.
- For individual employment opportunities with employers who demand their Heads of Department or Production crews to have the ETCP Certification.
- To self govern.
For many years before ETCP, employers recognized the value of IATSE Members under their employment, having collectively multi-million years of experience in the entertainment craft. For the IATSE, the ETCP accreditation, in combination with the IATSE logo, identifiably raises the bar to further identify the IATSE brand, of what the foundation of IATSE is all about – the best in the industry. By adopting the ETCP certification as a standard – for lack of any other existing standard in North America, the result should be a stronger foundation for IATSE Members and a stronger recognizable brand. This should then lead to continuing employment and better wages and conditions and a safer work place. We should all embrace this opportunity to be further recognized. After all, it doesn’t hurt to have further qualifications.
We also need to remember, that the ETCP is open to anyone who meets the requirement to sit for the exam. If the non-represented have this certification and we don’t, then what? For those who are not aware, the ETCP Certification has rooted ground with Employers and their Insurance underwriters. What this means is that the employers are now faced with the question of due diligence. They are asking, how do we know or how can we identify the competency of our employees? Is the IATSE branding enough? Where are the records of training & testing?
Things always change.
Like so many other things, when issues arise, forces come together to correct or mitigate any issues and often by way of continuing education and training as well as new regulations and standards. The next progression then leads to the requirement for a record of training, certifications or licensing in order to resolve the issue. As an analogy, by way of when enough buildings and bridges fell, legislation brought in the requirement for licensed Engineers (and in Ontario, Canada, that was only around 1927) who areself governed. Prior to development of structural materials it seemed easy to build a structure of limited size of a story or few with reasonable skills and knowledge and assurance that it will stand. But as time goes new materials and machinery come along and architects or designers desire to be on the cutting edge. This lead to structures of greater magnitude, but the trouble being, some fell down and people were injured or died. Hence, regulation and legislation comes along. This analogy is not much different from our industry even with some of the basic things we do such as pyrotechnics, aerial lifts and fall protection, etc. (In Canada if you do not have these Certificates you are not legally able to operate). Designers design to the edge of technology given the budget. And at the end of the day this of course leads to the need for higher skilled workers. This is no different from what we face now and in our future.
In my 30 plus years as a member of IATSE, I have seen three distinct things: technology change, more competition and more accidents. The shows are heavier; the special effects are elaborate and automated, there is more lighting, audio, video, pyro; as well as more electrical power distribution required etc. There have also been more accidents and some fatalities along with this growth. Some have been in our venues and some in other venues not under our collective agreements. And as our Brothers and Sisters in the USA know, legislation came about with the right to work that in my mind impinged on our Union Representation in the work place and the Yellow Card system. But at the end of the day these accidents cannot go on and the forces will act to mitigate them.
The industry / employer requires the need for a higher level of skill sets to put these shows on and they’re willing to pay someone. Who will that be? The employer does or should recognize the value of having IATSE Members. But they also recognize the ETCP Certification as added value and due diligence. To the employers the ETCP Certification addresses the issue for them of record of training.
Are there problems with the ETCP program? Some I think. Is there ever a perfect system? I think that the ETCP Council is aware of some of these issues and are desirous to progress as well. We should all embrace this as an opportunity with all the attributes that come along with it. The biggest thing that I think the ETCP has done by far is to encourage learning. By default, it gives some direction for setting of training and educational goals
Are the exams difficult? This is relative. For our seasoned Members maybe not so, but they are likely to still want to study and prepare accordingly. For our newer Members there is homework and practical experience that is needed. After working with a great many IATSE Brothers and Sisters, both locally and road persons, I believe with all my heart that we are all capable of achieving success with these exams.
Lastly, I think it is important to take two approaches to the ETCP Certification program: A long-term one for the newer Members so that we have Members regularly writing the exam in the various categories every year. The exam may not be easy but if we develop our training programs in incremental progressions our Members should have no problem succeeding. In the short-term, I would encourage our seasoned Members to lead the way and start by taking the practice exam online without studying and don’t guess at the answer. By doing this, you will discover what you already know and then what you will need to work on. From there you build your study groups.
Take advantage of this opportunity and act now to gain a stronger foundation for our membership, more employment opportunities, better wages and a safer workspace. If legislation or the employer demand recognition then what, who will get the work?
IATSE Local 58
I hope this helps you move your membership forward, though the calls have not stopped since the convention, which is a very good thing. Please let me know how to help!
ETCP Certification Manager
630 Ninth Avenue, Suite 609, New York, NY 10036