Speaking at the Trade Association’s Annual Luncheon and British Security Awards 2018 Ceremony held in central London on Wednesday 11 July, the British Security Industry Association’s (BSIA) new chairman Simon Banks – co-founder and Group managing director at CSL – emboldened the excellent and ongoing Apprentices for Fire and Security programme that he kick-started several years ago by insisting that still more needs to be done to entice higher levels of apprenticeship take-up across the security business sector.
Pulling no punches, Banks told the assembled audience: “Without a talent pipeline the industry will be finished. It’s as simple as that. The best technology in the world is useless if it cannot be installed properly. We must make it plain that young peoples’ talents will not be wasted if they decide to venture into the realms of the security business sector. Our industry is an exciting one, complete with technology including thermal imaging, cyber, drones, biometrics and Deep Learning Video. Next year, we will be inviting school and college pupils to IFSEC International and deliberately embarking on the biggest push for new talent ever witnessed in this sector. We want the young people of today and tomorrow to pursue a career that begins with an apprenticeship.”
Skills for Security is, of course, the BSIA’s training subsidiary, all the while boldly providing skills education throughout (and not just at the point of delivery).
“The BSIA supplies standards,” urged Banks. “At present, there’s a ‘Tech Invasion’ occurring right across all of the BSIA’s Membership Sections. On that basis alone, everyone in this room should aspire towards standards involvement and help in protecting our sector from incoming disrupting verticals. Let’s not forget that, when home automation is mixed with security, it’s our responsibility – nobody else’s.”
Protected, informed, credible
Astonishingly, the BSIA’s corporate logo is presently displayed on only 1% of security installers’ vehicles, but Banks is adamant that, in light of the above statement on the ‘Tech Invasion’, installers have never needed their Trade Association more than they do now. “BSIA installers are protected, informed and credible,” urged Banks.
Clearly, the new chairman firmly believes that the BSIA needs an enhanced cohort of installation companies and dedicated installers within its ranks.
“Our world is changing from an analogue to a digital footprint,” continued Banks. “2025 will see over one million lines challenged to a new technology with BT’s ‘All IP’ offer. We also have to navigate Brexit. Clearly, the BSIA is going to be pivotal for both occurrences.”
BT announced back in early 2016 that, “by 2025, all customers will be using IP Voice.” This wasn’t a quick decision for BT, but rather one taken after lengthy and detailed discussions with the telecoms industry. It was felt that the ‘end of life’ for the ISDN and PSTN networks was “inevitable”, with a 2025 ‘cut-off’ affording providers and customers alike enough time to transition towards IP-centric telephone solutions.
Mutual respect and co-operation
Manpower (ie security guarding) continues to form the biggest element of the Trade Association’s membership. For its part, the BSIA is continuing with its important work designed to reach a situation of mutual respect and co-operation between service providers and clients in this sphere. “We must continually strive to increase the trust between private and public sector services,” highlighted Banks. “Greater respectability will justify a fair margin for what is an excellent service.”
Speaking of the industry’s client base, Banks – who co-founded the CSL Group (formerly CSL DualCom) in 1996 to manufacture security and communications products for the security and fire sectors, and then steadily built the company to become a global provider of connectivity solutions – also touched on the key subject of end user awareness (and specifically so in relation to the BSIA itself). “The public needs to know about the BSIA, while we also need to ensure as a collective that our sector isn’t overlooked by Government. Workable standards, credibility, ongoing collaboration and robust market intelligence will all assist in this regard. The BSIA’s logo is a statement of quality, trust and integrity. We must put forward that message at every opportunity.”
Banks referenced the Grenfell Tower tragedy of June last year, which he dubbed: “The avoidable disaster.” He ventured: “The industry needs a Halo standard. The public has a right to a Halo or a Gold standard wherein lives and property matter. The BSIA has a vital role to play here through standards and training. It’s training that delivers the competency. On that note, it’s great to see that the BSIA remains a solid supporter of the Engineers of Tomorrow.”
Dealing with the challenges ahead
The security industry and its customers benefit greatly from the BSIA’s work, but it remains the case that the organisation is only funded by a select few. “We simply must correct this imbalance,” asserted Banks.
“With so many new opportunities on offer, there has never been a better time to engage with the BSIA. The entire security value chain should welcome, adopt and promote new technologies rather than allow competing verticals to invade our sector. Standards and competence underpin our industry and should not be compromised. Participation in the BSIA ensures that we all remain relevant and a competitive force with technology and skills. The professionalism inherent within the security industry will ensure that we become the first choice for the provision of leading products and services.”
In closing, Banks explained: “The BSIA is a listening organisation. It’s a Trade Association for all companies of all sizes. During my term in office, I look forward to taking this outstanding organisation forward. With your help, we will deal with the challenges I’ve outlined and embrace the opportunities in front of us.”
James Kelly, CEO of the BSIA, said: “Simon’s appointment as chairman is very timely and will, I’m sure, be of great benefit to the BSIA and its members. As we seek to extend our membership and bring about a deeper talent pool for the industry, Simon’s enthusiasm and connections will help us in reaching out to new recruits and maintain a high profile for the industry’s leading Trade Association.”