Whether your technical staff consists of paid employees or volunteers, it’s good to know if they have the basic skills they need to do the job you’re having them do to support the worship experience.
That’s why USITT is developing the eSET program, Essential Skills for Entertainment Technicians.
While worship is not entertainment, the same equipment is being used in both environments. eSET will offer an entry-level system of information and testing across several technical fields.
The goal is to give employers and supervisors confidence that someone who has an eSET certificate is familiar with the basic skills and knowledge in an identified subject, like basic electronics or basic rigging.
USITT began by forming eSET working groups composed of people from the entertainment industry who hire entry level workers, as well as people teaching these programs in our academic institutions. Many of these people have a strong background in worship. Together they are creating a certificate that can get buy-in from both sides of the training/hiring equation.
Already in place is an eSET glossary and mobile app that can help people learn and understand over 2000 terms used in entertainment technology. By year’s end, USITT will offer the first online exams in Rigging, Electrics, and Costuming. The first practical exams in these areas will be held at USITT’s Annual Conference & Stage Expo next March 16-19 in Salt Lake City. More will follow around the country.
Those who pass both online and practical eSET exams will receive a certificate recognizing that they have a grasp of the fundamental skills required to enter these jobs. eSET will give employers and supervisors a way to know that entry level staff have a basic understanding of a set of skills that have been enumerated by the industry and training programs.
Information and exams in other areas, including safety and health, special effects, multimedia/ projection, and scenic fabrication, will be added over time as more working groups tackle those subjects.
Recognition of the value of specific knowledge will make this program successful – in measuring students’ preparation to enter these jobs and this field, giving our academic partners a benchmark for measuring student success, and making our stages, churches, and civic auditoriums safer for everybody.
In the House of Worship environment, it gives an opportunity for entry level staff and volunteers to demonstrate a mastery of basic skills learned in the classroom or through on-the- job training. This gives supervisors more confidence in the knowledge their volunteers possess.
We hope that eSET can serve as a start on the path to continuing education and keeping up with the latest technology and safety standards.
We hope you will look into eSET and direct the folks who will be working on your scenery, lighting, sound, rigging, costumes, multimedia, etc., to do the same. They can start by downloading the mobile app here, and visiting www.usitt.org/eset for updates.
David Grindle is Executive Director of USITT, the United States Institute for Theatre Technology.