Across the security industry, there is a need for more skilled workers, and the convergence of cybersecurity and physical security has brought along a demand for more technical professionals as well. In SIA’s 2020 Megatrends report, 73 percent of poll respondents said they had added cybersecurity specialists to their organizations’ ranks, with 21 percent planning for it now, and 46 percent had already enlisted data privacy specialists, with 33 percent planning to do so now.
One of the biggest challenges the industry faces is attracting, onboarding and retaining quality talent. SIA noted the importance of addressing workforce development challenges in the 2020 Megatrend report – with workforce development ranking eighth on the list of top trends facing the industry – and has taken major steps toward growing and diversifying the talent pipeline over the last year.
SIA and the Electronic Security Association (ESA) have been collaborating on strategies to help the associations identify, recruit and retain qualified employees for a variety of roles within the security industry. As part of this partnership, in 2019 SIA and ESA began working to transition the Alarm Industry Research & Educational Foundation (AIREF) into the new Foundation for Advancing Security Talent (FAST), a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to addressing workforce development challenges in the security industry. The FAST initiative will promote the security industry to media outlets and prospective employees, conduct research on projected demand for certain job roles within manufacturer and dealer/integrator businesses and offer education and training tools to members.
In an effort to help security companies strengthen their recruiting efforts, in 2018 SIA released the Employer’s Complete Guide to Hiring – a 12-step guide to hiring talented employees that fit the company culture, match organizational needs and help drive businesses to excellence. In 2019, SIA incorporated more depth and tools into the hiring guide by developing a supplementary resource that shares job description templates for common roles in the security industry.
In 2019, SIA embarked on the first-ever SIA Wage & Benefits Benchmarking Study, a comprehensive survey of integrators and manufacturers to provide detailed salary and benefits data for key jobs in the security industry. This first-of-its-kind study – which will enable decision makers to better assess their businesses’ health and compare their companies against industry peers – ensures SIA members and participating companies have comparison salary data they need to attract and retain employees, provides benchmarks on both wages and benefits provided to employees and helps provide salary benchmarking data SIA can use to help market the industry to the next generation of talent.
SIA is committed to leading the security industry toward gender parity and bringing more women to the field. In 2019, SIA continued to grow the Women in Security Forum, a group open to all SIA members that offers programs, career development opportunities, awards and networking and professional growth events with the goal of supporting the participation of women in the security industry. Key efforts and activities in 2019 included the Progress Award, which honors individuals who advance opportunities and pave the way to success for women in the security industry through volunteerism, professional development and efforts that foster a diverse workforce; successful breakfast events at ISC West and East featuring insights from industry leaders; a lively networking reception at GSX; growth of the monthly SECURE Perspectives column in partnership with Security Sales & Integration profiling successful women in the security industry and offering their insights, perspectives and advice; a partnership with Security Systems News on the publication’s 11th annual Women in Security issue, featuring women in many facets of the security industry; and sponsoring the 2019 Women in Biometrics Awards recognizing distinguished leaders in the biometric identity and security industry. The SIA Women in Security Forum has hundreds of members and is continuing to grow and engage more women in the industry.
SIA also partnered with Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS), the premier organization with national reach dedicated to bringing together women in cybersecurity from academia, research and industry to share knowledge, experience, networking and mentoring. SIA joined as a sponsor of the WiCyS 2019 conference, which offered presentations, workshops, informal discussion sessions, panels and more. Additionally, SIA and WiCyS partnered on a series of webinars featuring women in the industry and sharing valuable security insights.
In an effort to draw more young people to careers in the security industry and grow and diversify the talent pool, SIA has strengthened its student outreach over the past year. Over 200 students have taken advantage of SIA’s free academic memberships for students; academic members can grow their knowledge and career paths in the industry by leveraging SIA’s resources and networking opportunities, with access to all SIA publications, reports, webinars, networking events, official communications and more. In 2019, SIA launched Discover Security, a monthly newsletter for student members that shares the latest security technology news, profiles experts in the industry, shares free student-focused resources and highlights internship opportunities at SIA member companies. SIA also developed a presentation for college outreach to introduce students to the security industry and its career and internship opportunities and has plans to expand its college and university outreach in 2020.
SIA’s RISE community for young security talent and those new to the industry – which has grown to over 600 members – helps foster young professionals’ careers through fun networking events held during top trade shows and in major cities across the country, career growth webinars, scholarships for education and professional development and career tracks at ISC West and East. Most notably, in 2019, SIA RISE hosted the first-ever AcceleRISE – a new conference for tomorrow’s security leaders featuring top-quality idea sharing, coaching, business skills development, networking and inspiration. Highlights of AcceleRISE 2019 – held Aug. 14-16 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, included interactive workshops on purposeful networking and addressing conflict in the workplace, insights from the Twin Cities Marathon team on the evolution of race-day security, presentations on the power of positive leadership and providing customer service, a lively networking reception and group exercise classes with tomorrow’s security leaders. Plans are already underway for AcceleRISE 2020.
These and other initiatives will help SIA continue to lead the way in bringing in a new generation of professionals and diversifying the security talent pipeline.