Adam Bannister

Editor, IFSEC Global

Author Bio ▼

Adam Bannister is editor of IFSEC Global. A former managing editor at Dynamis Online Media Group, he has been at the helm of the UK's leading fire and security publication since 2014.
April 4, 2019

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legacy of professional standards

Internet of things is more opportunity than threat, security installers told

Firms that install intrusion and video surveillance systems have been urged to “own” the fast-growing Internet of Things (IoT) market for security products.

The IoT, which connects everyday objects to the internet, each other and devices including alarms and cameras, presents both opportunities and threats to physical-security firms.

On the one hand there is scope for new, often recurring revenue streams; on the other, some in the industry fear that IT and tech giants could muscle in on the physical-security market.

But Simon Banks, group managing director of CSL, has told an audience of security service providers that the opportunities outweigh the risks – so long as the industry is proactive and leverages its strengths.

Speaking at the NSI Summit 2019 in Birmingham, he urged attendees not to be “scared of Alexa and Google”. The industry had one major advantage that really counted in a sector where reliability and peace of mind was paramount: a legacy of professional standards.

The industry needs 30,000 new engineers “today” and competency is the watchword

NSI Summit 2019 main theatre

One potential barrier to achieving this, however, is the ongoing engineering skills shortage. Banks, who is also chair of the BSIA, said the industry needed 30,000 new engineers “today” and competency was the watchword.

The crisis was inflating salaries in the sector, he warned, which was good for individual engineers but potentially untenable for firms if they continued to climb. Some engineers in London were commanding huge salaries that threatened the ecosystem and installers’ affordability, he added.

He mentioned multiple training initiatives to combat the skills gap, including a new fire and security Apprenticeship StandardApprentices for Fire & Security, and the Engineers of Tomorrow competition that takes place annually at IFSEC International.

Powerful incentive

He also revealed that CSL was trialling an industry-financed sponsorship programme that would see manufacturers of security products fund apprentice salaries in addition to government funding colleges that introduce fire and security engineering courses to the tune of £18,000.

With the per-head cost of non-electrotechnical courses currently around £4,000, that would serve as a powerful incentive, said Banks.  Manufacturers sell less if their products can’t be installed so sponsoring the salaries of apprentice engineers seems a logical solution.

After all, he continued, colleges were businesses and were on the lookout for revenue opportunities. He told attendees who wanted more provision in their area – provision remains very uneven geographically – that colleges usually had their own business development managers who would be receptive to such opportunities.

Such initiatives within the industry are particularly vital when government efforts to address the wider engineering skills shortage appear to be foundering.

The government is said to be “very unlikely” to hit its target of creating three million new apprentices by 2020 – which Banks called unrealistic from the outset – with take-up actually falling by more than a quarter. The BBC has reported that many small firms are abandoning schemes and larger ones are neglecting to claim back the money they paid in, leaving £2bn unspent.

Banks said the apprenticeship levy was theoretically plausible but too complex and had put firms off.

NSI Summit 2019, which Richard Jenkins said has received “overwhelmingly positive feedback”, also saw Surveillance Camera Commissioner Tony Porter reflect on how a wave of innovation has both revitalized an ailing video surveillance sector and created fresh privacy challenges.

CSL is exhibiting at IFSEC International 2019, taking place 18-20 June 2019 at ExCeL London (stand IF1310). Book your free ticket now.

 

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