It has been an incredibly eventful start to the decade for all UK businesses, which has inevitably impacted us as a business too. It’s important to look back and acknowledge what we have learnt, review how we’ve overcome obstacles and what we, as a team, have put into place to find efficient and effective solutions to move forward with.
Let’s take a closer look at the considerations to improve our ability to operate while mitigating any potential risk to our client base…
As a major supplier of intelligence-led manned guarding, loss prevention services, and a leading provider of electronic security solutions in Europe, we provide a tailored risk-based service for clients. We deliver the correct resource relevant to each location profile, ensuring any spend is appropriate and the deployment is effective – yet we quickly experienced the economic changes and associated risks from those changes after Brexit and again during/after the pandemic.
Figures in September 2021 reveal there are thousands fewer licensed security personnel within the industry than there were a year ago which presents a significant challenge when it comes to recruitment. A recent study further highlights this challenge as it indicates that the global Manned Guarding market is projected to reach $220 billion by 2024. With an increase of burglaries and crime events and a higher-than-usual demand for security guards since businesses and hospitality events re-opened, having a reduced pool from which to select and recruit capable, quality officers is far from ideal – especially as we’re already at a point where national security vacancies are rising.
When we also consider an increased rate of sickness (physical and mental illness) for front-line security personnel due to their exposure to COVID-19, this has further heightened the difficulty to fulfil coverage requirements for clients.
The emergence of COVID testing centres, often paying enhanced wages, is also a contributing factor that has led to even greater security personnel shortages. The centres have taken additional resources away from the traditional security provisions we provide to our clients.
December 2021 Update
- From a technology standpoint, a shortage of parts and ancillaries was delaying fix rates and installation timelines. From a people standpoint, the industry is short of licensed operatives, and we are all recruiting from the same pool with the highest pay rates being the obvious winner.
- The industry has historically been dependent on migrant operatives for many years, and we are now all trying to attract new people into the industry, from a UK generation who wouldn’t have previously considered security as a career.
- This recruitment process is competing with other industries which are not only managing Brexit and COVID-related people losses and issues but also attempting to attract talent which is not included in shortage occupation lists.
The impact of recent events is being felt in other industries too. We have seen well-documented instances across the country, where there are shortages of Pick Packers, lorry drivers and other gangmaster-related activities. This has meant businesses have not been able to fulfil requirements and deliver certain goods and services, for example:
- JD Wetherspoon has felt the effects after running out of beers, including Heineken, Carling and Coors.
- BP has experienced supply issues at several petrol stations.
- McDonald’s could not offer milkshakes to its customers.
- Nando’s had to close 45 restaurants after running out of chicken.
- Iceland Foods had as many as 50 deliveries cancelled per day.
- Sweet manufacturer, Haribo experienced challenges in delivering sweet to UK shops.
- A shortage of microchips has meant Toyota was forced to temporarily cut vehicle production by 40%.
- Abattoirs, butchers, and meat processors are set to employ prisoners and ex-inmates to help plug labour shortages.
People shortages, wages, and sickness
These issues have affected the security industry as well.
We’ve been impacted by the following:
- A reduction in licensed personnel in the UK, having a reduced pool from which to select and recruit capable, quality officers.
- Increased competition as national security vacancies is rising.
- Increased sickness (physical and mental illness) for front-line security personnel due to their exposure to COVID-19.
- The emergence of COVID testing centres, often paying enhanced wages, is also a contributing factor that has led to greater security personnel shortages.
This all compounds the difficulty to recruit, retain and fulfil coverage requirements for clients.
Impacts from Government Decisions
If we read a little more into some of the reasons for the issues highlighted above, we notice that recent political developments have also led to difficulties for businesses striving to meet the demands of their clients.
Bureaucracy has resulted in drivers struggling to travel in and out of the UK and the depreciation of the pound makes working in the UK less attractive. What’s more, tax legislation changes amidst the COVID pandemic (with the reform of IR35) has reduced the incentive for self-employed individuals. This has led to a number of these people leaving the industry.
The Government’s neglect to place positions like security officers or haulage drivers on the shortage occupations list hasn’t helped either. These roles do not qualify for a skills related visa and therefore exacerbate the current staff shortages in these crucial industries.
Shortages in trade, haulier, people, and manufacturer supply, PLUS the impact of government decisions and greater international instability, MULTIPLIED by the increased security demand, EQUALS… a tricky equation for all industry businesses to try and work out.
But what does this mean, and how can we mitigate the risks?
From a technology standpoint, a shortage of parts and ancillaries is delaying fix rates and installation timelines. From a people standpoint, the industry is short of licensed operatives, and we are all recruiting from the same pool with the highest pay rates being the obvious winner.
The industry has historically been dependent on migrant operatives for many years, and we are now all trying to attract new people into the industry, from UK generation who wouldn’t have previously considered security as a career.
This recruitment process is competing with other industries which are not only managing Brexit and COVID-related people losses and issues but also attempting to attract talent which is not included in shortage occupation lists.
In response to these challenges, it is evident that companies are actively trying to incentivise, retain and recruit additional resources through various employee-led initiatives. Particularly where driver shortages have affected the ability to deliver, as a result, supermarkets have introduced the following:
- Tesco offers drivers a £1,000 bonus.
- Aldi increased the salary for all drivers.
- Waitrose offers a £2.00 per hour increase, as well as a £1,000 joining bonus to recruits.
An employee’s marketplace
These issues combine creating a marketplace for employees as vacancies are high, providing more choice to those seeking roles. We see better pay and conditions as the major driver to security operatives seeking new roles.
Amberstone Solutions for our team
We initially set out to be the leading example in the security industry by implementing similar incentives that supermarkets launched to look after our employees. We’re pleased to say that we’ve now achieved a number of goals to offer job security, competitive pay, and be an employer of choice during these challenging times:
- Goal 1: Work with clients to raise employee wages in regional areas where COVID test centres are present. The rate will fall in line with, or in some cases, exceed the rates being offered in these locations.
- Dec ’21 update: In many cases, we are already at or exceeding the next minimum wage of £9.50 per hour.
- Goal 2: Utilise recruitment employee bonuses for supporting recruitment, or as a welcome, attendance or performance-related bonus.
- Dec ’21 update: We have offered employee joining bonuses of £500 in challenging to recruit areas.
- Dec ’21 update: Offered some positions performance-related bonuses to drive retention.
- Dec ’21 update: Offered travel performance-related bonuses to drive retention and support hard to cover locations that have limited transport options.
- Goal 3: Lobby for furtherance to the apprenticeship levy scheme enabling often lost funds to be used in differing ways to attract and train apprentices into our industry.
- Dec ’21 update: Are in conversations with training providers to seek using apprenticeship levy funds to fund license training as a part of a wider apprentice training package, enabling apprentices to do other front-line employment as a part of a wider security career journey.
- Goal 4: Cover the cost of the SIA licence and license linked training for the duration of employment.
- Dec ’21 update: We cover the cost of the SIA licence and license linked training for the duration of employment.
- Goal 5: Attend careers events at colleges to encourage students studying public service courses to join the industry.
- Dec ’21 update: We have attended a plethora of careers events at colleges, military and DWP locations to encourage new people into the industry.
- Goal 6: Offer training to university students looking for part-time work and cover the cost for their SIA license and training.
- Dec ’21 new goal and update: Amended shift patterns to reduce weekend working to facilitate a better work-life balance.
Teamwork really does build the backbone of Amberstone Security – thank you to our team for your continued hard work, your support and loyalty.