Developing skillsets in the security sector: do security professionals know how competent they need to be?
Chair: Martin Gill
David Scott – Managing Director at Skills for Security (UK)
Simon Banks – Founder and Director at CSL Group (UK)
Olivier Hassid – Partner and Director at PwC France
Jason Brown – National Security Director at Thales (Australia)
Simon Banks highlights the challenge posed by setting competency standards has been undertaken in the UK by the setting up of what is called the Trailblazer Group. It is charged with developing a relevant curriculum for what security personnel need to know in 2020; many of those that currently exists he argues are woefully out of date. You will hear him make a distinction between ‘competencies’ and ‘skills’ and the crucial role of training providers and building a successful rapport with them; this he argues is a prerequisite for a successful company. For Simon, training is not a nice to have, it is a requirement. He supports legislation to ensure standards that are integral to public safety are maintained and offers interesting support for those, especially entrepreneurs, who pursue a career via apprenticeships as opposed to a degree.
Jason Brown paints a picture of the set-up in Australia and his evidence suggests that it is more advanced than in the UK. That will not surprise many people. He points to a stronger regulatory regime (albeit with differences between States); more developed vocational training; and more advanced input from the security associations. He argues that responsibility for competencies is a leadership issue and outlines his own work (including for his employer) in promoting the development of security competencies. He stresses the point that skill development needs to be an integral part of tender documents; that middle managers are key; and that while the classroom provides a good learning environment in the security sector on the job training plays a crucial role too. He calls for greater international collaboration.
Olivier Hassid paints a completely different scenario in France where developments he argues have been slow. He points to a lack of qualified people in some areas of security; he calls for more research; greater national industry support; for a more structured classification of security roles and skills sets; and a bigger emphasis on certifications. He too points to the need to develop middle managers emphasising once again the key role of leadership. The starting point is properly identifying the skills need for different roles and then the skills gap. He laments the lack of vision that characterises current approaches.
David Scott draws an important link that is especially relevant in this time of crisis; that there is a direct connection between skills development and a thriving economy. He underlines the need to communicate the message – currently often not heard – that there is a real value in investing in skills. He discusses a range of work being undertaken, on the national apprenticeships; developing security pathways; and dealing with the mismatch between skills and training. He echoes the lack of emphasis on leadership skills and discusses the whole world approach which many interested in this area will find engaging. As he says, the experience of Covid-19 is changing the skills security professionals need; the sector needs to be flexible and quick to adapt, and that applies to skills development too. There is no question the security sector needs to upskill; times are changing and the sector needs to repair the damage from years of neglect (in some areas more than others). Work is in progress, and there is even a move to a whole world approach. Perhaps the biggest challenge is to sell the benefits of training to a world that operates on low margins and is often marginalised. Stressing the importance of improved skills and economic gains is key, but strong leadership is needed too. That has always been a challenge, there is some scope for optimism this is being met but we need to monitor this space, closely.