from a purely economic standpoint, let's consider the feasibility of me, an east coast shop owner, and my 2 full time employees attaining level 1 certification this year.
we would have had to attend the SCAA expo in anaheim, since nothing seems to be happening in the southeast currently....
...thus, to gain level 1 BGA certification, at minimum (travel, customer service and test), i'd be out $3200. maximum (full slate of classes, including trade show badge) i'd be out $5000.
as a business owner, i have to ask myself whether that makes economic sense. i need to ask whether that investment will pay off. a mere casual crunching of the numbers tells me that it will be highly unlikely that telling my customers we're all certified baristas will bring in $3200 during a calendar year. it's also unlikely to improve my coffee to the point that i will gain that much business - my baristas are pretty good right now, i doubt level 1 certification would push them to a point that people will start knocking the doors to down to drink their coffee.
the main thing i would look to the BGA for is that certification, and without there being a local and affordable schedule of classes, it doesn't seem worth it.
I still have some of the same expectations of a Guild that I had in that original conversation. If you want certification and Guild membership to be valuable, you have to show it's value.
Once a coffee enthusiast can see a BGA certification on the outside of a shop and know that they cat inside is going to knock him out as opposed to perform the mystical button-push, it becomes a 'brand', if you will. It begins to say, "This is where you can find 'real' espresso". Now it's valuable on both sides of the counter. The other thing that would make it work is to get the reps to provide the classes where the Baristi are, not the other way around. Classes that result in certification should be held in, at least, the major metropolii in the region that the rep is, erm... repping. These are the costs, travel, accommodations, bureaucratic necessities, that the membership fees and certification fees are supposed to cover. If a rep isn't able to travel to the masses, he should be able to house the masses in his home area and trade their work for his training. If not a Journeyman (journey being part of the gig) then a Master. If he's not qualified to teach, then someone has failed him.
I know, the 'guild' part isn't really indicative of an actual guild. But there was a reason that the actual guilds had their structures. It was to control the quality of the work that was done in the guilds name.
First order of business ought to be to make certain that each Rep is prepared to teach and certify level one folk. The next order of business is to start scheduling places and times for those interested in level one certification and arranging travel and accommodations for the rep to go out and do that.
Once that ball is rolling, follow with level two, three, and then a certification course. Once a person has reached their third level, they should be able to start certifying and training level one folk. (and that should be part of the level three training and testing!)
Or, at least, that's what I'd do if I were King... ; >
do the skill building workshops fulfill the requirements for BGA certification?