Tasks related to security and crime prevention have long ceased to be only the police’s responsibility. Private security firms contribute a lot to protect people and companies. But whoever thinks of the classic picture of a security guard or even a burly doorman, is completely mistaken. Employees in the industrial security sector are highly qualified and have good technical know-how. Integrity, authority and competence are essential preconditions of success in the security industry. Debating security matters in public receives more and more attention.
An increasing number of large and medium-sized companies as well as operators of public facilities opt for outsourcing property and personal protection tasks to external providers. Clients who, for example, wish to outsource in-house inspection, porter or reception services give first priority to finding a provider who offers appropriate know-how and qualified specialist personnel. Providers of security services who want to be continual successful will have to invest in further education and professional qualification measures for their staff, because there is often a lack of capable personnel.
The security market in Germany is currently worth 10.25 billion euros in turnover and has kept growing for years.
In 2008, more than 173,000 people were working in the alarm and security industry, plus an additional 30,000 as temporary staff. An unbalanced pay structure due to wage dumping leads to high labour turnover rates in some areas.
One of the key purposes of personal and property protection is to prevent destructive processes from occurring. That is achievable with the deployment of qualified staff combined with the use of appropriate security systems. There are three quite clearly defined core areas of services offered by the private security industry.
85 per cent of contracts are attributable to private households or property under private law without public access. These include, among others, factory and property protection and emergency or service call centres.
Approximately ten per cent of the business is related to areas under private or public law with public access, for instance the protection of DB (German railway) premises, shopping centres or fair grounds.
Only five per cent of the contracts come from public clients and pertain to public spaces. These are, for instance, tasks related to properties of the German armed forces or airports and traffic monitoring.
In any case, the purpose of all these measures is to avoid or minimize any physical or economic damage and to prevent breaches of the law.
Besides a confident manner and good physical condition, employees who are looking to build a successful career in the private security industry need to have a strong affinity for electronic security systems. Since many globally active companies have foreign-language speaking visitors, communication and foreign language skills are another essential requirement. Security firms and their employees must always give consideration to the specific needs of each of their clients.
The monitoring of technical facilities such as fire detection or building management systems which have the purpose of ensuring the security of a building is another important field of activity.
Men and women who undertake these tasks must have special qualifications. The attendance of a specialist training course according to §34a of the German Trade, Commerce and Industry Regulation Act (GewO) with or without CCI examination, is a mandatory precondition in this profession. A dual system of professional training is in place for the occupations of safety and security specialist/service specialist. Career switchers who have already completed some job-related training may take a CCI test as certified safety and security specialist.
These qualifications normally improve the career prospects in a company. In addition, qualified workers receive higher wages. Further education opportunities are available to people who have completed professional training. They may become CCI-certified Masters of Security and Safety or certified technical business management specialists or they may do subject-related study courses for security business administrators/managers.
A number of other services requiring specialist qualification include, for instance, aviation security. Aviation security assistants perform tasks like passenger, personal, luggage and freight screening. In regional public passenger transport, security firms offer protective services for passengers and employees besides other types of services.
Specially trained security experts are required to develop reliable safety and security concepts for extensive premises or building complexes. These specialists carry out site inspections at regular intervals and, in cooperation with the client, conduct a needs analysis to meet their particular security requirements. In case of property protection, elements of building technology, electronic devices, master key or equipment protection systems must be assessed.
More and more clients opt for highly specialized monitoring systems. Particularly in large public squares, at train stations or airports, highly effective security solutions can hardly be implemented without the help of technical equipment. Even smaller firms increasingly tend to invest in electronic security systems to keep up with the latest developments.
The “European Electronic Security Barometer”, a survey conducted in 2007, shows nevertheless that companies do not rely on technology alone to maintain security standards. 37 per cent of the interviewed companies intend to invest more money in security, another 45 per cent don’t plan on cutting down these areas. No doubt, technical devices have contributed a lot to improve the professional practice in recent years and have enhanced the security sector. But what matters most is always the specialised personnel that carries out operation, maintenance and evaluation tasks.
At the end of the day, occupations in the security sector involve delivering a variety of demanding services. And it should not be forgotten that private security firms not only support government crime prevention strategies, but they also contribute to creating new jobs.
The author was born in 1964. He is a qualified Master of Security and Safety. From 1987 to 1996, he worked as a facility manager for two security firms. In 1996, he founded the ATG Sicherheitsgesellschaft mbH, whose managing partner he has been ever since. In addition, he is a member of the board of the Southern Bavarian regional district of the SME association “Die Familienunternehmer-ASU e.V.”.
The author, born in 1977, trained as a banker. From 1999 to 2001, she worked as a management assistant at a mortgage bank. Since 2002, Nadine Boehme has been a partner and an authorized representative of ATG Sicherheitsgesellschaft mbH. In 2008, she joined the “Verband deutscher Unternehmerinnen e.V.” and she is a member of the board of its Southern Bavarian branch.