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IFSEC Insider, formerly IFSEC Global, is the leading online community and news platform for security and fire safety professionals.
December 5, 2022


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Training in practice: Spy Alarms – “Companies that invest in their employees will have higher retention rates”

With security and fire technology evolving at a rapid rate, quality training for engineers is critical for installation businesses to ensure their staff are highly competent and that customers are being provided with the latest and most appropriate solutions. Here, we hear from Spy Alarms, about its commitment to best practice with its own in-house academy and regular Tavcom Training courses for its engineers.

SPyAlarms-TavcomTraining-22Founded in 1985, Spy Alarms is one of the largest privately owned installers of security systems in the South East with more than 75,000 customers – both domestic and commercial – throughout London, Kent and the Home Counties.

From studio apartments to country estates, small offices to large industrial complexes, the business installs and maintains intruder and fire alarm systems for all kinds of premises. But effective delivery requires effective technical training and Spy is a rapidly growing business.

In order to sustain the growth, the team decided to take control of its engineering resource by creating the Spy Academy to develop its own engineers from scratch. Whilst the majority of the course is run in house, Spy also partners Tavcom Training to support its needs.

IFSEC Global (IG): Tell us a bit about yourself…

Spy Alarms (SA): We are a proactive company who look to grow through acquisition as well as the more traditional organic route. Over the last 10 years we have acquired 23 companies in the Southeast area and are actively seeking more companies to bring into the Spy Group.

Over time it became clear that the best way to support our growth and maintain our high standards was to grow our own engineering talent as well as recruit from outside. The heart of our approach is to ‘invest in the best’ and develop knowledgeable, proficient, and enthusiastic engineers who will be an asset to the business.

IG: How does the academy work?

SA: Our academy intake is six new trainees every six six months (with no/limited prior experience). We have our own in-house 12-week training programme which prepares our apprentices for practical courses they then take with Tavcom.

This involves pairing them with an experienced engineer for four days a week before they come to our dedicated training centre every Friday for a practical training day where they learn key basics from handling tools and wire cutting to practise installations and health & safety. This ensures they have some basic knowledge to work with before joining the Tavcom course.

We have a fully developed training syllabus which gives them a comprehensive foundation knowledge. This is supplemented with three external training courses booked via Tavcom: Intruder Alarm Training, Mains Compliance and Basic Electronics.

IG: Why is training so important to you?

SA: First and foremost we are a service business and we can only deliver good service to our customers if the engineers that do the work are trained, competent, know what they are doing and know what it means to represent the Spy Family. We feel in house training, supplemented by professional courses with Tavcom to BTEC level standards, are a key part of us building the right team, skill-set, knowledge and culture for our business.

It’s important that the people we are sending to work on jobs are competent and know what they’re doing – not only from a practical point of view but from a regulatory and safety perspective as well.

As one trainee Chris Owens says: “The Fire Alarm practical course has given me the confidence and experience to move more towards fire alarm installations and commissioning works.”

Equally, we feel strongly that career development is important to our colleagues and is something we feel we should offer at all levels within our business. Training is a key part of career development for engineers as they look to develop and broaden their skill set. We are proud to be able to offer that to all our engineers and consider it to be a long-term investment that benefits the business as well.

Time and again it’s been proven that companies who invest in their employees experience significantly higher employee retention rates than those who don’t. When considering the future development plans of the business, we want the best and brightest working for us and that means investing in your engineers and making them feel valued.


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