Attracting and retaining young professionals is one of the biggest challenges across all industries today but the issue is even more pronounced within the security market. According to research conducted by Security Business magazine for its annual Fast50 awards, which ranks the fastest growing security dealers and systems integrators in North America, 73 percent of companies surveyed said that employee recruitment and retention was one of the top threats to their business.
“Industry-wide, experienced and seasoned technicians are aging, with some wanting to retire and others looking to get out of the field and into the office. Skilled trades are down in favor of higher education for incoming generations, and we are feeling the pain,” Andy Boyd, President of Integrated Protection Services, told Security Business regarding the struggle to recruit and retain a skilled workforce.
According to Dan O’Sullivan, CEO of GC&E Systems Group, demand for workers with an expertise in IT is also on the rise given the industry’s shift from analog to network-based technologies
“As integrated electronic security systems become more technically complex and integrated into our customer’s networks, having strong and talented IT professionals is a must,” he said. “We need system architects, engineers, and cybersecurity professionals as well as service professionals with the aptitude to quickly assess, troubleshoot and mitigate performance or operations issues.”
As part of an effort to keep young security professionals engaged and help them improve and refine their skills in the industry, the Security Industry Association (SIA) recently announced that it is launching a new event dubbed “AcceleRISE.” Hosted by SIA’s RISE community, the event will take place Aug. 14-16 in Minneapolis and feature blended learning sessions with a mix of keynote presentations, panel discussions, team building exercises, peer networking and workshops.
“The number one business issue, in my opinion, facing SIA members and the industry is attracting, recruiting and keeping qualified talent,” SIA CEO Don Erickson says. “What the AcceleRISE event seeks to do is to complement the tools and programs that employers – on both the manufacturer and integrator side – have for their young talent now to help them become future leaders by giving them a different kind of (educational track).”
One aspect of the event will focus on so-called soft skills development to help younger professionals learn how to communicate with their supervisors and higher ups within an organization. Other focuses of the event will include financial acumen, team building exercises with peers in a less structured environment than they would typically find in the corporate setting and training that will help them learn more about the security ecosystem. Erickson says they will also likely have someone deliver a keynote address on how to help a startup business in the industry grow as well as on how to hone project management skills
“I don’t’ think we’ve done a great job as an industry actually promoting the industry and its technology innovation in a really exciting way to prospective employees who are younger. There is a war for talent out there. Call it a crisis; call it an epidemic, but I don’t think we’ve gotten serious enough in promoting the industry to younger people,” Erickson says. “That’s why you continue to see many younger professionals continue to look at Silicon Valley, places like Google and Facebook, and for lack of a better term, more household names and common brands as sources of employment. AcceleRISE is part of an overall effort to promote the industry and we’re hopeful that we’ll have local college students from Minneapolis and the surrounding area attending as well as individuals who may be working in other industries in the area.”
In contrast to the stereotype that today’s workers, particular Millennials, are hard to motivate, Erickson said what’s he found is that young security professionals today are intellectually curious about the industry.
“They want to learn more about their jobs, why they’re doing it and they want employers, in greater detail, to explain the purpose of what they’re being asked to do as part of an organization’s overall mission,” Erickson explains. “The second thing I would say is that I find young professionals here on the SIA team and elsewhere to be very much focused on being altruistic in terms of corporate social responsibility as a key area of interest. I think they are more willing to contribute to the community that they work with and for… and I think they are more willing to participate as part of the fabric of the company and social activities and contribute that way as they are externally and support a company’s social responsibility obligations.”
Additionally, Erickson believes that companies need to be stressing to their younger workers that security is one of the most innovative industries in the world with technology that is advancing at a pace that is “breathtaking.”
“We see it all the time. We weren’t talking about AI as much two to three years ago or robotics and drones or even facial recognition to the depth that we’re talking about it today,” he adds. “The industry has to do a better job of talking about the excitement and innovation behind those technologies and what they are capable of doing in terms of fulfilling a mission of the industry which is to protect residential communities, property, people, commercial establishments, and I think that is really key.”
For more information about AcceleRISE, click here.
About the Author:
Joel Griffin is the Editor of SecurityInfoWatch.com and a veteran security journalist. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.