Security’s new apprenticeship: a licence to skill
Whilst school was out and many people were taking a summer break, August brought a long-awaited milestone for the security industry. The newly unveiled Professional Security Operative (PSO) Level 2 apprenticeship is an exciting step towards helping more security professionals realise their career aspiration.
Security’s new apprenticeship
In an ever-evolving security landscape, it’s crucial that we continue boosting investment in the development of a better skilled and diverse workforce – one that will be equipped with the right skills and knowledge to stay one step ahead of future challenges.
Empowering our workforce
The journey to bring the PSO Level 2 apprenticeship to fruition has been marked by the determination, collaboration, and unwavering commitment of all the organisations involved to help further professionalise the security industry. It offers a structured pathway for individuals seeking to join or progress within the sector, addressing the ongoing challenge of attracting and nurturing new talent. With a comprehensive curriculum, combining theoretical knowledge and practical experience, the course truly aligns with the multifaceted nature of today’s security industry. It’s no wonder we’ve already received an overwhelming amount of interest in the course from Mitie colleagues, and we’re just one provider.
As an active member of the private security industry Trailblazer group, I believe that every security professional, whichever company they work for, should have the opportunity to rise from the front line to the boardroom if that’s their goal. That’s the path I’ve followed, thanks to the support of many people along the way, so my role as Chair of the Security Skills Board is my way of giving something back. I’m immensely proud that this new qualification will open up opportunities for many more people, and serve as a catalyst to help individuals unlock their true potential and realise their career aspirations.
Investing in our colleagues
Faced with escalating threats posed by cybercrime, terrorism and wider security concerns such as increasing business crime, we need individuals with a diverse skill set, from technology and analytics expertise to interpersonal skills and crisis management. It has become crucial to create an attractive and enabling working environment for our colleagues, which includes offering competitive compensation and benefits packages, challenging career paths, and of course, opportunities for advancement. Having spent over 30 years in the industry, I see the potential to have real impact on the areas we work in, be that retail crime or corporate espionage. There’s never been a more interesting time to be in our industry. However, rather than solely seeking new recruits, there’s huge potential in our existing workforce if we provide colleagues with further opportunities to learn and grow. Investing in and enhancing their skills, knowledge, and capabilities, will inevitably empower employees to take on more advanced roles and responsibilities but also secure future industry talent.
Breaking down barriers
Until the launch of the PSO apprenticeship, and other than in Scotland, there was no entry-level apprenticeship programme that matched the role of thousands of security personnel. For Mitie alone, this represents over 15,700 colleagues who could benefit from this programme and similar ones to come.
While its launch marks a positive milestone for the sector, it’s essential to highlight that the trailblazer process behind it, which guides the development of the apprenticeship standard, has not moved as quickly as anyone would have liked. There are ways we can continue to improve training prospects, particularly when it comes to the Apprenticeship Levy.
For example, opening up the Levy so it can be used to help people achieve the entry requirements they need, such as maths and English, would help those without these foundational qualifications get their foot on the first rung of the learning ladder. At Mitie alone, we have 155 nationalities within our workforce, for many of whom English is not their first language. The option to use Levy funding to support English qualifications to meet apprenticeship entry requirements would help more people access this training.
In a sector like ours, where so many people have variable working patterns, be that opting for shifts that work alongside their lifestyle, or opting to work part time, we need to offer the same opportunities to all. The minimum requirement of six hours of weekly off-the-job training as part of an apprenticeship is prohibitive. Relaxing this requirement would offer more opportunities for these colleagues – and better suit the needs of our industry.
Diversity makes us stronger
Through government-funded learning pathways such as the PSO apprenticeship, employers can highlight the opportunity of a fulfilling and impactful career in security to a wider pool of talent who might otherwise overlook the sector. For example, the PSO apprenticeship aims to provide a solid foundation for anyone looking to build a career in the security industry, including under-represented groups such as women. This places employers in a stronger position to build a diverse workforce, bringing along with it a wealth of perspectives, ideas, and approaches, crucial for tackling multifaceted security challenges we face every day.
Paving the path ahead
Along with my fellow industry leaders, I’m proud of our people. I see security officers doing amazing things every day, from saving lives to small acts of kindness, and they deserve to be recognised as the professionals they are. Having a formal qualification is a step towards achieving this.
It’s an exciting time for the industry and colleagues have certainly demonstrated a strong interest in learning and career development through their immediate enthusiasm for this new programme. It was clearly a long time coming, but I’m already eagerly awaiting the graduation of our first cohort and hearing about their journey along the way.
These people are the future of our industry, the more opportunities we can offer, the more they will shape and energise the security sector, pushing it towards a future that’s even stronger.
Managing Director, Business Services,
Mitie & Chair of the Security Skills Board