Job market for guards set to grow

Industry experts say more security officers will be hired in 2012

One of the big factors impacting the job market in Canada is an increase in construction that is being driven by new natural resource developments. In Alberta, for example, Aube said that the market for security services is growing extremely fast due these natural resource projects.

"When they establish (these projects), they have to create this huge infrastructure requiring a lot of security," Aube said. "Once the construction is completed, security guards will typically remain on the site to control the traffic going in and out."

In addition to having traditional skills, Gillece said that modern day security officers must also possess good communication skills as they are often times the first point of contact for someone visiting a client's facilities. For those thinking about entering the guard market, he recommends that potential candidates maintain a friendly and professional demeanor, be punctual and be able to communicate during the interview process.

In many cases, security officers will also need to have or develop specialized skill sets depending on the sector of the employer.

"The specialized skills really relate back to the particular client. Going into an interview process, having those experiences or being educated around some of those verticals and the security needs around those verticals really gives a potential candidate a leg up," Gillece explained. "Furthermore, some sectors such as the defense contractor industry or the government sector, they may require special security clearance and in some cases unique and specialized licenses. So, it's important as a potential candidate looking for a particular role or position that they really understand and look at the job description to find out the specific characteristics and/or license or requirements the security company is looking for."

While it's important for security officers to have good customer service skills, Pincus said it is just as important for them to be able to fit into the corporate culture of the organization they work for.

"Shared values is a term I'm hearing more and more when speaking with customers," he explained. "They are looking for security officers and a company that have a lot of the same shared values and skill sets that go with it. Fitting in culturally with the organization and having shared values seems to be more important these days."

Over the last several years in Canada, Aube said that one thing that has had a big impact on the job market is an increase in government regulation of security officers.

"Where like say five years ago or two years ago, the permit or license to operate was the property of the companies," he explained. "The government has changed this and now it is the property of the employee and they need to get their own training. Before it was the responsibility of the company to provide training, now it's the government issuing the permit or license to an individual that needs to do longer and more rigid courses to get their licenses."

Aside from the economy, another factor that has had an increasing impact on the job market for security officers, according to Gillece, is an increase in various regulations and awareness in some sectors following the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

"The mission is to serve and secure the people, homes and businesses of our communities. The impact of 9/11 continues to be felt around the country," Gillece said. "As we get more sophisticated about protecting our infrastructure, our communities, our homes and our businesses, regulations will follow along with industry standards and guidelines. I think they are having a very large impact on the demand for security officers. And I also think too, that the general perception of a security officer is going through a genesis and as we get more sophisticated in the standards and requirements continue to improve and increase throughout the industry, the employee that we're looking to attract and hire to serve our clients, that bar will also continue to rise."

Pincus said that security officers are also now expected to do much more than they did in the past.