The security industry is facing a shortage of experience and skill sets in several areas while the industry advances in its technology. This recent poll performed by Security Systems News, an industry publication, shows that there is a desire to address a shortage of talent, a need for more diversity, and a need for recruitment and diversity in the industry.

Changes in the Industry and a Movement Toward Diversity

As with many other industries, especially in areas of technology, the Security industry suffers from a lack of talent and skill sets to address the ever growing requirement complexities for technology and engineering skills. In the past, alarm systems, simple analog CCTV systems, and basic access control systems were he norm. Anyone with basic skills or no skills in the industry at all, could open a company, study and get a license, and be a security systems installer. It was an easy and inexpensive way to start a new business.

With the prevalence of IP based systems over the last several years, the industry has significantly changed. It’s grown from simple alarm companies to one that requires skills of IT, cyber security, and systems integration. It is a major crossover into higher technology. What this means is that customers have greater demands and needs for various technologies and skills that many Alarm and security installers do not have. If the security companies cannot provide these specialized services, the industry will suffer significant losses in their businesses as they will not be able to compete for these sought after contracts.

In addition, there is a significant movement in society to work with diverse suppliers and to increase diversity in leadership within companies in the industry. It is now realized that working with minorities and women can bring in needed skills sets and business opportunities that non-diverse companies don’t have access to. Many major corporations, government agencies, and not for profits have diversity programs for their own employees as well as requirements for diverse and certified Minority and Women Business Enterprises (MWBE’s). Below is s list of areas where technology skill sets are needed:

  • Women and Minority technology leaders
  • MWBE certified partnerships
  • Network administrators
  • Audio/Video professionals
  • Smart home professionals
  • Software Developers and Programmers
  • Systems engineers and administrators
  • Design engineers
  • Cyber Security professionals
  • Cabling and fiber optic professionals
  • Security systems technicians
  • Industry and IT certified professionals (ex. Genetec, Milestone, ONSSI, Lenel, Cisco, Fortinet, BICSI, CISSP, etc.)
  • Sales and Marketing professionals

The Challenges

The poll in the image above indicates that there is an acknowledgement, openness, and desire to tap into this pool of women and people of various backgrounds to open doors to new business opportunities that are available and in many cases unknown. Not to mention, this generation has no real interest in installing alarm systems, the old bread and butter of the industry. There are challenges here. Where do you find these women and minorities with the skills and community access that are needed?

Companies in the industry can recruit potential candidates from traditional sources such as colleges, trade schools, social networks and word of mouth. Another great source is to seek out certified MWBE companies, of which there are thousands. Some of these candidates might have the sought after software/hardware certifications and skills and some may not.

Some of these certifications are obtained by the candidates on their own such as a degree, Cisco, Fortinet, or BICSI or paid for by the hiring company. However, some of these industry certifications are much more difficult for an individual or even a company to get. Some training’s are free for entry level certs, but the higher level certs are very expensive (~$1,500 – $5,000 each) and some may require a sponsoring company. Some certifications are completely closed out to anyone due to very high revenue requirements (in the millions), requirements to have several engineers on staff, minimum or tiered purchasing requirements, requirements to put their product out front, or competition restrictions due to already certified companies within a geographical area. It not just about recruiting, the issues are quite complex and reside in all levels of the industry.

An Answer to the Problem – A Great Place to Start

The article and graph above representing the poll, show the need and desire for diversity in the security industry. There is no simple answer to diversity recruiting of individuals or companies, but the best starting point is to hire a “diversity officer” and implement a “diversity program” within your organization. The fact that you would have a diversity program in place for your company would in essence put your company in a different light if you market it and make it a priority. Many diversity professionals have vast experience in this area, have dedicated their careers to diversity, and have access to the community and pools you need. In addition, put an emphasis on diversity support from your distributors, manufacturers, software providers, and industry leaders. It is not a silo’d problem and requires adoption at all levels.