Good security is often used to keep bad people out. But the security industry itself is trying to keep people in when it comes to staff. And that’s becoming a real problem.
Indeed, growing skills shortages in our industry is one of the biggest challenges I see over the coming few years. Holding onto experienced people is increasingly difficult as the economy slowly regains some strength that, in turn, increases labour mobility among skilled personnel. And finding young people to be trained in our field is also challenging as the security industry isn’t on their radar when coming out of school. That has to change.
We need to fill the pipeline with trained professionals – young and old – to not only replace the people leaving but also to keep up with growing client demand for security services. In other words, we have to secure against a talent deficit that could – if left ignored – expose our clients to unnecessary harm and erode our bottom lines. It could also damage our industry’s reputation.
So what can we do about it?
Late last year the Canadian Chamber put their finger on the national skills problem in a detailed report called “Canada’s Skilled Crisis: What We Heard”. This report, a summation of crosscountry consultations, calls for action in four priority areas:
1. improve connections between educators and employers;
2. ensure a stronger role for employers in selecting immigrant skilled workers;
3. invest in workforce skills development, and within small and mediumsized businesses in particular;
4. support ongoing development of the First Nations’ labour force.
In my experience, some of the richest opportunities can be found in the first of these areas. That is, tapping into local colleges that, in Canada at least, are the primary training grounds for young people entering the trades.
It’s in developing strong relationships with the colleges that those of us in the security industry can make it even stronger over the long run. I can think of three benefits of collaboration in particular:
1. Shape the curriculum … With more training choices today than ever before, college educators are very keen to ensure that their curricula are as relevant as possible. By working with them in the spirit of partnership we can help do exactly that. Ask if you can assist teachers by lending your experience in shaping creating the curriculum. Start off by asking if they want you to be a guest speaker, then see if the relationship builds from there.
2. Create excitement about our industry … We need to create a certain buzz about the security industry. Yes, it often involves climbing ladders to install cameras and motion detectors. But it’s a lot more than that when considering the proliferation of private security and cyber security options around the world. I think security is one of the most interesting and dynamic industries out there, and we have to sell it that way to potential staff.
3. Secure that talent pipeline … For as much as we like to talk about new security technologies, ours is a peoplebased industry as much as anything. Developing and maintaining a talent pipeline through solid connections to trade colleges will constantly feed people into our industry in order to serve our clients in an increasingly sophisticated and competitive world.
Reaching out to complementary industries – such as the IT sector – pays similar dividends, especially as security and IT converge like never before. Cross training with information technology professionals will help to expand the talent pool of skilled security personnel even further. Greater collaboration and crosstraining can help secure our industry’s future by building skills for – and excitement about – our industry.
Let’s keep the good people in.