Editor, IFSEC Global

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James Moore is the Editor of IFSEC Global, the leading online publication for security and fire news in the industry. James writes, commissions, edits and produces content for IFSEC Global, including articles, breaking news stories and exclusive industry reports. He liaises and speaks with leading industry figures, vendors and associations to ensure security and fire professionals remain abreast of all the latest developments in the sector.
March 4, 2021

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Careers in security

The future looks bright: Secure Futures inspiring young people towards future careers in security

The Secure Futures programme has recently been launched by the Security Institute and EY Foundation to provide young people with the chance to develop their skills and understanding of life in the security sector. IFSEC Global got the chance to speak with two of the participants to find out how they were getting on, and their initial impressions of the sector after the first week of the programme.

The motivations behind the Secure Futures initiative are simple: raise awareness of the diverse opportunities available in the security sector to young people who may not have had the opportunities otherwise, and who have no existing involvement in it.

SecurityInstitute-EYFoundation-SecureFutures-20As Paul Barnard CSyP MSyI, the Security Institute’s Director responsible for the Next Generation in Security initiative, says: “We believe it is now more important than ever to creates these opportunities for young people. We need to embrace the next generation, and the Secure Futures programme is helping lead the way for the whole sector.”

The 27 young people taking part all come from low income backgrounds, and have no experience of the sector, which is why a key aim for the programme is to provide a better understanding of the pathways available in security.

Several sessions in the first week were designed to develop the participants’ core transferable skills, such as communication and leadership, with senior security professionals sharing their insights and experience to highlight the wide range of jobs available to young people at the beginning of their career paths.

Speaking to the participants, the benefits of demonstrating the diverse array of roles in security is already obvious.

Dina, one of the youngsters involved in the programme, explained how she was not aware of the wide variety of jobs available until now: “I didn’t have any idea what the sector was like, but I now see that it is open to anyone and there is such a variety of things you can do.”

Ifaz, another participant, agreed: “I have learnt a lot, such as the different pathways that are available to get into the sector. It was very inspiring speaking to senior professionals, as young people don’t really get the opportunity to speak to those in higher positions very often.”

The enthusiasm from the two was obvious following their first week of the programme. Both pointed towards their interest in the cyber security sector, revealing they had already undertaken additional research into more specific jobs they weren’t aware of before the Secure Futures initiative.

Careerpath-21

The first week was facilitated by the EY Foundation’s expert Programme Delivery Team, which included Nia Lonergan and Anita Chouhan. This is the Foundation’s first multi-employer programme, and speaking on the success of the week Anita said: “It has been a truly inspiring week, and it has been fantastic seeing our young people get passionate about the world of security. We’ve never had a multi-employer programme before, so this has been a ground-breaking programme for us. The enthusiasm and expertise of the volunteer speakers has been keenly felt by everyone, and the support that the programme has received from across the sector has been remarkable.”

A second week of the programme will commence in April, which will then be followed by 10 months of professional mentoring for the 27 participants involved in the scheme.

Raising awareness of the abundant opportunities in security

SecureFutures-DragonsDen-21

A few of the judges enjoying the Secure Futures Dragons Den task

Participants also took part in a Dragon’s Den style challenge at the end of the first week, drawing on all they had learnt so far. The judging panel included several high profile security professionals, including Michelle Russell, Acting Chief Executive of the Security Industry Authority, and Rick Mounfield, Chief Executive of the Security Institute.

The challenge involved designing a mobile app to help attract other young people into a career in the sector and raise awareness of the security challenges we currently face. Ideas varied from gamifying students’ learning pathways, to using GPS to raise awareness about more localised security issues.

Throughout the discussion we had with Dina and Ifaz, it was clear the value they placed on learning from those already involved in the sector. The two both highlighted how hearing the myriad opportunities and pathways involved was inspiring and opened their eyes to how skillsets were transferable across a range of disciplines.

“It was eye-opening to hear how professionals think about security and risk,” added Ifaz. “For example, when listening to Paul [Barnard], it was fascinating to hear how something as simple as a bench outside a shop may actually form part of a wider security plan for a town centre. You just wouldn’t think about things that way until you hear from those with the experience.”

This is important to note for the future of the sector. For those who don’t have direct family links or pathways ahead of them into security, the industry may seem a little daunting. This is a challenge several industry bodies and associations are currently attempting to overcome – the Engineers of Tomorrow competition for apprentices in system design and installation, is another example.

But, with such a wide array of career pathways – from tech-driven engineering roles, through to risk management and crisis command – there really are prospects for all, and the next generation will engage if given the opportunity. Clearly, it’s about growing the awareness – something that the Secure Futures programme is already doing an excellent job of in its earliest stages.

 

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