There’s a little game my wife’s family has been playing with me in recent years. Each time we get together, they ask, “So, Jim, have you been traveling much?” My typical response has been, “Eh, not really that much.”
You see, they watch — but never comment on — the posts I make on Facebook when I travel to state associations or otherwise for NCRA business. So, they think I travel a lot and when I say that I don’t, their perception is that I am minimizing my travel to them because I think that they think that I should be at home more.
I’m not supposed to know about the little fun they have at my expense and that my wife has told me on the sly. So you have to keep this a secret.
They must be dying to get together this Thanksgiving to ask me the famous question because, this year, I have been traveling pretty extensively: Idaho, Nevada, Arkansas, Tennessee, Iowa, South Dakota, and Oklahoma, not to mention a visit to the state convention in my own state of Virginia. I’ve delivered some version of the same presentation in each state, talking about NCRA’s strategic plan and about the challenges and opportunities facing our profession.
It’s been interesting to gauge the reactions of our members during my state visits to what we have going on. First off, as I hope you’ve heard, we’re in the midst of a major campaign to bring publicity to our profession as a means of getting more students enrolled in schools. As part of the build-out of our Education strategy and of the plans laid out by NCRA’s Vision for Educational Excellence Task Force, this month and next, we are introducing the public to the results of a market demand study commissioned by NCRA and carried out by an independent research fi rm. What that firm found was that over the next five years, the demand for stenographic court reporters will exceed supply by about 5,500 individuals.
There are all kinds of implications for this “shortage,” and, yes, that is the appropriate word. But, in my view and that of the NCRA Board of Directors, this is a major opportunity to attract new people to our profession. It’s not hard to imagine this taking off, equipping court reporting programs, state associations, and NCRA with a compelling news story that we will supplement with targeted advertising.
But we’ll never have enough money to throw at a publicity campaign the likes of which our profession deserves and, thus, we ask our members on the ground around the country to take up arms in our effort. And as I have talked to our school owners and administrators during my travels, what I can tell you is that nothing helps their recruitment efforts more than having experienced court reporters accompanying their recruiters into high schools and participating in career days or presentations about court reporting to our future students.
At one school I visited this past summer, I learned that a single presentation at a high school brought in six new students to its next enrollment period. Six new students from one high school presentation! Can you imagine that? And if each of our members took part in our overall recruitment efforts in coordination with a local school or even just on your own, imagine the overall impact we could have. If each of the 32,000 court reporters in the United States did one presentation at a high school and each was responsible for six new students enrolling — and I know that number is not feasible, but play along with me, I’m on a roll — that’s 198,000 new students!
At the NCRA Convention in San Francisco, we introduced our “Take Note” publicity campaign. But we need you to act. For my part, I’ll keep visiting states and emphasizing the need to get engaged on this important effort and to stay engaged.
Jim Cudahy, CAE, is Executive Director and CEO of NCRA.