SIA – Security Industry Authority – update on skills initiatives
There have been a number of skills initiatives announced in 2023. In this article, the SIA provides its input on these developments.
Security Industry Skills Board
One of the most notable developments has been the formation of the Security Industry Skills Board. This initiative has created an entity that is starting to take a strategic view of skills across the private security industry.
The Skills Board announced itself to the world at the Skills Summit that took place in Canary Wharf in June. The Board itself, chaired by Jason Towse of Mitie, includes senior figures from the private security industry and policing, united in the project of seeking solutions to the skills issues facing the industry.
A large number of businesses have already signed up to the innovative ‘skills pledge’, promising to support workforce development. This initiative aims to foster and support an industry culture of development.
The Skills Board has already made meaningful progress on strategic projects. The work of the Board is critically important if industry is to meet the skills challenges of the future. We will look more closely at the work of the Board in future articles.
Another major recent initiative has been the approval of a government-funded apprenticeship framework for the industry. Work on the apprenticeship started three years ago. Despite interruptions from COVID, the Trailblazer group formed to develop the apprenticeship requirement showed great tenacity in ensuring a relevant and robust framework of learning was made available to the private security industry. Mark Williams, Chair of the Trailblazer, who by day is Security Operations Manager for the Parliamentary Security Department, helped steer the group through the choppy waters of negotiating industry need with the requirement for government approvals.
The result is that, for the first time, the private security industry has a government-funded programme of learning aimed at operatives in the industry. The apprenticeship will provide funded opportunities for professional training in core security skills and allow employees to choose a specialism from Operational Security Operative, Cash and Valuables in Transit, Mobile Security Patrol and Security Control Room Operative.
The framework can be used by existing staff, and by new entrants to the industry. This brings the exciting possibility of offering a government-approved route for professional development for new joiners. It has long been the ambition of many to make the industry a career of first choice – the new apprenticeship system is a major milestone along the way to achieving this.
For employers wanting to find more about offering apprenticeships, visit: www.apprenticeships.gov.uk/employers
The new Professional Security Operative apprenticeship can be found at: www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/apprenticeship-standards/professional-security-operative
These two developments mark real progress in addressing skills issues. They also show a positive collaborative relationship between the private security industry and regulator. Industry has driven two major initiatives, supported and facilitated by the regulator in its determination to help drive up standards.
SIA Licence Requirements
In terms of the regulated private security qualifications, we are all now getting used to the new licence-linked requirement. Since 2021, those applying for a door supervision or security guarding qualification have been taking a new, fuller training requirement as well as a first aid pre-requisite.
Those seeking to renew a Door Supervisor or Security Guard licence have been required since October 2021 to take top-up training, and the first aid requirement.
Alongside the new qualifications, additional assessment and quality requirements were introduced. These included more practical assessments, like the need to write a statement, and demonstrate managing conflict.
One measure in particular has been useful in maintaining standards, and that’s the requirement to video practical assessments. This means that complaints about malpractice can be investigated more comprehensively.
SIA licence-linked qualifications are regulated by OfQual, and delivered by government-approved awarding organisations.The qualifications are delivered within the same framework of rules as GCSEs or A Levels.
Because of some concerns in the sector, the SIA has gone over and above the usual arrangements to add a layer of quality assurance.
The SIA works with others to define strict rules for delivering qualifications. It also works with awarding organisations and OfQual to ensure all allegations of training malpractice are investigated.
Since April 2021, the SIA has been conducting its own unannounced visits to training providers, to give assurance that qualifications are being awarded fairly. Each year, the SIA is visiting at least 125 providers. Each visit results in an action plan that is sent to the awarding organisation. The majority of training providers are happy to see the SIA, are pleased to show their work, and take comfort that others not following the rules are more likely to be found out.
These visits have allowed us to not just raise individual cases of concern, but to take a view of where training providers might need additional support. This has led to us developing measures to help improve practice, including new guidance and hosting webinars.
Where training malpractice has been found, there have been a range of responses. Action taken in the past has included revoking qualifications and the revocation of training certificates. Other action includes awarding organisations taking away the ability of a training provider to offer a licence-linked qualification.
The SIA has guidance on the website of where any concerns about training malpractice can be reported. There is a real determination to clamp down on this practice and support the majority operating the good standard within industry.
As the regulator, our vision is to ensure that the public are better protected by facilitating the raising of industry standards and performance.
This approach is reflected in the changes we have introduced and will help to achieve our aims of a consistently high quality and professional private security industry that is committed to high standards and protecting the public from harm.
Security Industry Authority www.sia.gov.uk