Pledge signs off skills board event

by Mark Rowe

Guarding company executives signed the pledge last week – the skills pledge, that is. It was the conclusion of an event in London arranged by the Security Skills Board, headed by Jason Towse of Mitie, pictured, that’s looking now to press on with work on training and qualifications towards a more professional sector, Mark Rowe reports.

While the signing on stage at the Canary Wharf Marriott was symbolic, so was that the event was organised by the skills board, rather than the regulator the Security Industry Authority, although the SIA was there and among speakers. The June 6 event chaired by Prof Martin Gill was the latest stage on a journey that included a defining conference at Euston in March 2020 – only for the momentum gathered then to be upended by the covid lockdown.

A first panel that ranged over the landscape, chaired by Martin, heard from Jason Towse, and another board member, British Transport Police Deputy Chief Constable Alistair Sutherland; and SIA director of licensing and standards Steve McCormick. Jason and another board member Shaun Kennedy of Securitas – recently made Chief Operating Officer – Central Europe at the multi-national – in the next session talked about the business plan of the board, including a national skills academy; that is, a way of accrediting ‘centres of excellence’ that deliver training, in the name of setting standards, for instance in (say) a healthcare security-specific or evidence-handling course that’s not covered by the basic five-day training required before applying for an SIA badge.

As sketched out also at Euston, the board also wants to map out career paths (for those who want to see how they can progress, and what qualifications and experience will take them where). This will, the event heard, require finding funds (from the industry). While the SIA will, it said afterwards, give ‘active support’ to the board, the regulator stresses that the board has to be industry-led, whereby the main employers in the sector get together on this ‘skills agenda’.

Why the industry might want to do that was covered in the next session, on staff retention, where the speakers were Satia Rai, Chief Executive Officer of IPSA (International Professional Security Association); Tracy Plant, HR director of CIS Security and a member of the skills board; Peter Harrison, Managing Director of the stewarding and guarding contractor FGH Security; Arran Perry, also of FGH, named Outstanding Young Security Professional of the Year at the 2023 UK OSPAs in February; and Rick Mounfield, former Chief Executive of the Security Institute, now at the consultancy Optimal Risk. As will be featured in the July print edition of Professional Security, it came out that retaining staff is not only about money, necessarily; but about an employer being flexible and offering benefits, as Peter Harrison said, interviewed in the March print edition of the magazine.

David Scott, MD of Skills for Security and a board member, chaired next a session with fellow board members Stuart Kedward, ops director at Universal Security; and Alistair Sutherland. That raised the question of whether, if police ever more want reliable private security in the event of an emergency, why does the College of Policing not arrange a common platform whereby private security can carry out some train-ing? Tracy Plant chaired the fourth and final panel on CPD (continuing professional development), or ‘making space for learning’. Panellists were Cathie Babbington, Leadership and Learning Design Manager at Securitas Security Services (UK); Suzanne Hawkins, HR Director, Carlisle Support Services; and Martyn’s Law campaigner Figen Murray, who earlier that morning had been at Westminster, to give evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee of MPs, as they began their ‘pre-legislative scrutiny’ of the Terrorism (Protect of Premises) Bill, containing the proposed Protect Duty, a legal responsibility on venues to counter terrorism.

The SIA’s Head of Individual Standards Tony Holyland told Professional Security afterwards: “It was a fantastic day; and it was particularly satisfying to see the energy that industry had for driving the skills agenda.”

If you were not able to attend the event, you can catch up at webinars; and at the SIA annual conference at the Oval, Kennington, south London, on September 19.

The Pledge

We undertake to deliver the standards set out in the Skills Board Charter through:

•Supporting our people in accessing all available learning pathways
•Creating clear career pathways within our organisation
•Driving the highest possible learning standards
•Creating a culture of inclusivity with opportunities for all.

The Skills Charter

We will make Security a profession of choice, underpinned by clear career pathways offering progression opportunities. Professional development in the sector will be supported by a comprehensive, accessible and commonly understood framework of learning. Employers in the sector will strive to create an industry culture that allows security professionals to fulfil potential and make their fullest contribution to an industry known for high standards.

The charter goals will be:

•Tackling the current skills gaps and shortages
•Engage with new entrants.
•Ensure capabilities deliver public safety.
•Will strive to create an inclusive culture.

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