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IFSEC 2023

Filling the skills gap in security – What are the options?

We need to recruit at least 30,000 engineers for the security sector with school leavers, the military and security guards all providing fertile recruiting ground. That was the message from Skills for Security’s and the BSIA’s Simon Banks at IFSEC on Wednesday. Chris Price reports.

SimonBanks-Facilities-SkillsGap-23Like other tech sectors, the security industry faces a huge skills gap – a shortage of people needed to do the jobs that are required.

Speaking at the FM Theatre at IFSEC in London on Wednesday 17 May, Simon Banks – Chairman of Skills for Security and the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) – told the audience the industry needs to train at least 30,000 more engineers to fill the jobs that are required.

“At the moment we have 1,200 apprenticeships. You don’t need to be a mathematician to work out that it’s simply not enough to fill the skills gap,” he said. One solution is to train school leavers, but even that isn’t going to be anywhere enough,” he said.

“Another, in the nicest possible way, is to go and poach people from other close verticals,” he added. He pointed to the fact that while the SIA (Security Industry Authority) has 375,000 licenced security professionals on its books, it loses 15% of them a year through churn.

“Many are leaving because they can get more money working in an Amazon warehouse and don’t feel like they have a career path as a security guard,” Banks told the audience.

“We need to give them training and a career path.”

He said that many people may prefer to upskill to become engineers. “The idea is to take those people and put them on a level three apprenticeship with 25 days in academia and turn them into first fix entry level security engineers in one to two years.”

Nor are these the only options for helping to fill the security gap. He also suggested that former military personnel may also help to fill the void, with 14,000 leaving the armed forces every year through churn. Though this may depend on the level of the individual, with many of those leaving the army too senior to consider an apprenticeship role, as one audience member pointed out.

Another option may be to recruit from technical roles in other industries. “Maybe you don’t want to be working with 13amp sockets for the rest of your life. Maybe there’s a career for you in the electro-technical security industry instead,” said Banks.

In conclusion, Banks explained the industry was fast approaching a crisis point and desperately needed more staff. “All the of the manufacturers that you see here at the show have a huge problem that if they don’t get the skilled engineers they need, they aren’t going to sell anything.

“It’s a value chain and we need to fix it.”


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