Skills Shortages Within the Fire and Security Industry

Apr 8, 2021

For the past few years, the growing skills shortage within the security and fire sector has received much attention. With many experienced engineers taking their retirement or transferring industries, employers have struggled to find suitable replacements. There are not enough young engineers entering the industry, which has resulted in a fight over talented young engineers and increasing wages. 

Over recent years, salaries have been slowly increasing, with many engineers opting to switch companies for a salary boost. Sadly, this is beginning to change the skills and salary correlation within the sector, as the average salary is constantly being pushed higher. While this is great news for engineers, for employers it’s a much bigger challenge. It puts pressure on them to create loyalty to their company and makes them question hiring apprentices.

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The solution to reducing the skills gap in the industry is hiring more entrants within the sector, but this is not as easy as it may seem. Qualifications in the fire and security field which meet employers needs and are recognised across the sector would be one step to guaranteeing the skillset of those in the industry. This would also make the industry far more appealing to those considering entering it, as they’ll see the path they can follow throughout their training and career. 

It’s possible currently to become a commissioning engineer without a formal qualification to show your skill level, and there’s no legal requirement to obtain qualifications to show your standards. Because of this lack of qualifications, many school-leavers don’t even know the industry exists or the potential career options available to them. School and college leavers generally look for a progressive career route to follow, which the fire and security industry doesn’t offer currently. 

The next issue the industry faces is the confusion over whether engineers should be fire or security engineers, or a combination of both. Employers like to hire multi-discipline engineers, as it reduces the number and cost of employees. However, this issue comes with its own risks, as there’s no guarantee that life safety and security systems are installed and maintained to certain standards. A multi-disciplined engineer has to keep up with so many systems and constantly increase their knowledge, which is almost impossible to do with a heavy workload. Still, this is critical for companies to ensure legal requirements are met. 

When working with life safety systems, this is very dangerous for companies to deal with. Many fire alarm systems fail due to a lack of maintenance or poor installation, which is risking human life and the safety of buildings. The reduction in the number of engineers in the sector has forced employers to train their engineers in multiple disciplines. However, when engineers can specialise in security or fire, you will provide higher customer service levels and increase expertise as they can excel in one area. When employees are thinly spread, it’s detrimental to both them and their employer. This issue can only be resolved by allowing entrants to gain specialist knowledge and skills and encouraging this during their training. 

With an estimated shortage of 30,000 engineers in the industry, it’s more important than ever before to attract new individuals to the sector. If these issues aren’t resolved soon, the skills gap will only increase and create more risks for premises and employers around the country. 

Contact Secure and Recruit today for assistance with hiring in the fire and security industry. We can discuss your business needs and requirements and share with you the benefits of working with an agency. We specialise in hiring within the fire and security industry and can work with you to overcome the issues discussed here today.

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Reference video: IFSEC Global