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‘How can we make Security ‘A Career of Choice’?’

‘How can we make Security ‘A Career of Choice’?’

Last year, research from the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) predicted a shortfall of 62,000 security officers. So what are security firms doing to make careers in the industry accessible and aspirational?

We don’t just need new officers to keep the public safe against emerging threats. To be more effective and progressive, the security industry needs the talents and ideas of the next generation.

So what are security firms doing to make careers in the industry accessible and aspirational?

Changing the face of Security

It’s first worth discussing what’s already changed. I graduated from Aston University in 2003 with a Master’s Degree in Business Studies. Hospitality, the sector I’d previously come from and trained in, was flagging, so I looked for graduate schemes at FTSE 500 companies. 

I earned a spot on a year-long placement with Rentokil Initial (an extermination company who, at the time, offered security services). I got the 360 view, a hands-on experience of what a career in security could offer, spending time with the sales, finance, operations and management teams. I think replicating this experience is challenging for smaller firms, but very powerful for smashing aspersions of what a security career looks like.

Since then, the industry has only become more diverse – both in terms of opportunity and representation.

Opening more doors to success in 2023

In spite of those BSIA predictions, the industry is growing. The year since January 2022, saw 11,363 new licence holders. This included a 14% increase in 18-24 year olds and a 6% uptick in the number of female officers.

A lot of these recruits will be joining at ground level. The first rung on the security ladder is no longer solitary guard duties in a draughty port-a-cabin. 

The industry is adapting with new schemes and scopes of learning to help people get up to speed after joining. For example, Skills For Security, the BSIA’s training arm recently launched its first apprenticeship for front-line personnel. The Level 5 SVQ Security Officers Services Apprenticeship is already running across Scotland, with ambitions to bring it to the rest of the UK soon.

  • There are currently over 500 students on Skills for Security apprenticeships across the UK.
  • Areas of focus and learning include Fire Safety, Mental Health Awareness, Conflict Management, Counter Terrorism and Safeguarding. 

Making Security a prestigious pathway

We’re excited to do even more to create accessible opportunities for all. But what about the aspirational graduates, scanning FTSE lists like I once did?

The current graduate market is similar to the one I faced in 2003. In fact, the post-Covid slump has hit many more industries than tourism and hospitality. When Corps Security was hiring for account managers last year, I was surprised by the number of legal and financial graduates we spoke to. 

British graduates are competing with the best talent internationally for opportunities at FTSE companies. Combine that with a tough economic environment, these students are opening their scope to industries like security.

Security certainly needs to do more to glamorise itself if we want to be thought of among these prestige sectors. We must play to, and highlight, our unique strengths:

  • Social benefit: Keeping people and places safe is our day-to-day., the purpose of our work. We need to make that clear to a generation who (more than ever) want to join businesses that are making a positive impact.

    As a social enterprise, Corp Security works hard to provide opportunities to those who need it (this mission goes back 160 years, when we were set up to provide gainful employment to ex-service personnel after the Crimean War). At all levels of the business we work on ways to provide social value. This commitment to ESG is making waves across the industry.  
  • The cutting edge of security tech: The biggest change since my arrival is the growth of cyber. Modern security firms embrace emergent tech to beat tomorrow’s threat, from biometrics to video analytics and AI.  

I don’t think the old tropes about guard dogs and maglites will stick around much longer. My kids are already learning more about web safety and cyber security in primary school, than I was offered at any point in my education. We must demonstrate how a career in security can foster these skills for the future. 

  • Dynamic range of responsibilities: In terms of career paths, the next generation are as interested in enjoying a wide breadth of experience as they are climbing a corporate ladder. There’s a real focus on variety and change. And I think security firms are growing to accommodate this.

    We aren’t just looking for officers and team leaders. There’s opportunities for analysts, accountants and investigators. Our services stretch across aviation and events, counterterrorism and cybersecurity. You can work operationally or build the next generation of security solutions. The scope is brilliant and the chances to specialise are here.  

The security industry is making strides to offer diverse opportunities to the next generation, no matter the grade. We just need to keep shouting about it. 

By encouraging the best and brightest to take the first step into security, we can keep the industry growing, push our practices to the highest standard and keep the public safe.

By Seetan Varsani, Divisional Director (London) at Corps Security

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