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September 6, 2021

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Security officers & training

The importance of ongoing training for security officers, operatives and workers

Recently, workingthedoors.co.uk conducted the largest-ever study into violence against security workers. One of the most alarming trends unearthed by our research was the lack of ongoing training being offered to Britain’s security workforce. This situation has negative implications for the industry as a whole and needs to be rectified right away, explains the Working the Doors team.

Our study found that only 32% of the 1224 security workers we interviewed had received any ongoing training after qualifying for an SIA license. This means that 68% of security staff in the UK are taking a three to six-day qualifying course, before relying solely on that (together with their subsequent experiences) for the remainder of their careers in security.

Our study also discovered a degree of confusion regarding certain job requirements, as well as a general lack of faith in the standards of initial training – facts that make the general lack of ongoing training all the more alarming.

By contrast, most other professions view ongoing training as an essential part of employee development, with such training being considered vital by any company wishing to remain competitive and/or stand out from the crowd.

A standard SIA qualification will cover areas such as legal requirements, health & safety, drug awareness, fire safety and general working practices, as well as quite a lot more. It is fairly comprehensive and well-thought-out.

SecurityOfficer-Training-21

However, imagine visiting your GP, only to find that their medical knowledge was seven years out of date, or getting surgery from a team of surgeons who all trained in different eras and have never updated their skills.

Imagine a stockbroker who only possessed knowledge of last year’s markets. None of these examples would work, yet these are the restrictions placed upon most security workers in this country, according to our survey.

A security operative who trained 10 years ago will find their skills and working practices to be markedly different from one who qualified last year, as the industry has changed dramatically during this time. However, statistically speaking, the 10-year veteran will be given few opportunities to maintain a contemporary skill set. They may also be penalised if their work does not align with modern practices, even though this isn’t really their fault.

Ongoing training helps to keep skills sharp and up to date, as well as employees motivated, but its importance doesn’t end there.

Ongoing training makes business sense

The cost of hiring a new employee, for any industry, is considerable. Repeatedly re-hiring for the same positions can be even more expensive, exacting a huge toll on a company over time. In effect, ongoing training helps to mitigate the cost of hiring new employees.

We all know that a business cannot operate without employees – and it cannot thrive unless these employees have been well trained and are highly motivated. Ultimately, the more support, encouragement and training workers receive, the better a business will fare as a whole.

As Richard Branson famously said, “Take care of your employees and they’ll take care of your business”.

From the point-of-view of the employee (in this case a security operative) the benefits of extra training may include the ability to keep up to date with a changing industry and demonstrating to your employer(s) that you are committed to your job and dedicated to improving your skill set.

It is also a good way of placing yourself in a good position for advancement within the company. After all, the security industry does contain a number of opportunities for upward advancement.

By seeking out additional training, you can address your own shortcomings (and thus alleviate some anxieties about being replaced or made redundant). You can be more content in your job, and at the same time improve your chances of getting either a better job, a raise – or both!

Research has proven that a happy workforce is a productive workforce. Essentially, when employees are working towards a professional goal, or feel that they are improving their skills, they generally feel more positive towards their employer, their confidence increases and they work harder in their jobs.

From the perspective of an employer, the immediate benefit of extra training is the fact that it makes your employees better at their jobs, right across the board. Additionally, having employees that specialise in certain areas can actually justify raising some prices, thus bringing in additional funds.

Training and its impact on company culture

The worry that many employers have, understandably enough, is that, once trained, these employees will simply take their extra training with them to better jobs in other companies. This is certainly a risk, however, it’s worth noting that a lot of these fears may be neutralised via the creation of a positive company culture wherein there is room for upward advancement.

For instance, if an employee feels valued in their present role (as extra training has been shown to help with), they will likely demonstrate a greater degree of loyalty to their employer.

If said employee enjoys a good company culture and the job pays well enough, only ambition would see them wishing to leave for new pastures. If the company has a policy of promotion from within, those who were ambitious and highly trained would logically first seek advancement within the company itself, thus mitigating the risk of losing employees almost entirely.

Conversely, by offering varied and useful training, you can also attract better employees to your company, luring them away from employers that do not provide a good volume of ongoing training.

Training your employees demonstrates that you care about them and that you are as dedicated to them as they are to you. Investing in ongoing training can help you to retain the best employees, remain up-to-date and competitive and reduce skill gaps across your entire workforce, in addition to generating extra income through the increased quality that your business can now offer.

Additionally, investing in ongoing training can yield a number of tax benefits. For tax purposes, training is defined in s250 ITEPA 2003 as “Any training course or other activity which is designed to impart, instil, improve or reinforce any knowledge, skills, or personal qualities which:

  • are, or are likely to prove, useful to the employee when performing his/her duties
  • will qualify or better qualify the employee to undertake the employment, or to participate in charitable or voluntary activities arising through the employment”.

Accordingly, as long as the skills being taught are considered relevant to the employees learning them, a wide variety of training courses will qualify for tax exemption.

It gets better. If the training qualifies for tax exemption, then the associated expenses (such as the cost of travel, as well as that of any tools or materials required) may also qualify for tax relief.

Ongoing training is great for boosting teamwork, morale and skill sets, as well as reducing staff turnover and taking either your business, or your career, to the next level.

As corporate CEO Dan Price (who recently took a 90% pay cut in order to put more money in the pockets of his employees – and has seen his business grow exponentially as a result) says: “Listen to your employees, trust them, reward them. They are responsible for a company’s success – not CEOs.”

The research has revealed a worrying lack of support provided by the SIA and security companies, says Working the Doors. The full report, which can be found here, has highlighted a list of measures they believe may be able to support in the challenges the industry faces.

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