In the first part of our blog, Distribution Channel Manager, Andy Cross chatted about his introduction into the industry and how it has evolved over the last three decades.
In this second part, we quiz Andy on the needs of the industry now and where he sees it heading next.
TDSi: Finding the right professionals has always been a challenge for the security industry, hasn’t it?
Andy: Ensuring the security industry mines new talent has been a perpetual challenge and will, in my opinion, continue to be so. Apprenticeships remain an excellent way of training the next generation, not just in technical expertise but also in the ways of doing business. Wearing these two ‘hats’ is essential to any successful career and the best way to get to grips with both is to learn on the job.
Whilst it is a challenge to attract new talent, it’s also important to keep people in the industry. With a wide range of technical skills, security professionals are highly sort after in other engineering fields.
As I have seen in my three decades, it is vital that security businesses continue to support and encourage professionals by offering not only financial incentives, but also training and career opportunities so we retain the best talent.
TDSi: How do you see the security industry evolving in the future?
Andy: Despite the enormous changes in the last 30 years, it seems the pace of change is speeding up! There are some clear trends, with integration being the most noticeable. But even with current levels of integration there is scope to bring systems together more closely and Artificial Intelligence is already proving its benefits in complex settings such as airports, busy office buildings and railway stations.
Health and Safety is another area that has become closely linked to security. Obviously, security threats are already connected to this, but intelligent systems (such as access control, CCTV and detection sensors) are a perfect way to monitor any environment.
For example, you can count the number of people in a specific area, ensure everyone is out in an evacuation and even fine-tune environmental controls to ensure people are comfortable and these systems are more economical.
TDSi: What are your overall impressions of the security industry after 30 years of working in it?
Andy: What my three decades in security has taught me is that things never stand still in this industry! I’m sure the pace of evolution was outstanding to my forebears when I first became an apprentice and will continue to be so for my successors.
In a way, I have come full circle now, as TDSi was producing the Infra-Red readers I was fitting for Chubb as an apprentice. As TDSi’s Distribution Channel Manager, I am overseeing how the most up-to-date systems are being used in the market and I hope my experiences as an installer and supervisor stand me in good stead in supporting the teams that perform these vital roles now.
TDSi: What would you say to young people entering the security industry, or thinking of doing so?
Andy: There are fantastic opportunities to be grasped in the security industry. Security is an age-old need and society will always need to feel secure to grow and prosper. My career has shown you can develop from a good apprenticeship and there really is no barrier to how far up the ladder you can go with hard work.
Equally, I also hope current and future generations of security professionals continue to enjoy the job and have great stories to tell too. I have many anecdotes, I could share my experiences, good and bad, but they have all helped to shape the person and professional I am now.
A favourite that spring to mind though, there was a job I was sent on where I had to find the residence of an elderly retired Army General to install some systems. This was well before the days of Sat-Nav or Google Maps, so I had to ask for directions at the local police station. They happily obliged but also warned to be careful as his military past wasn’t completely forgotten and he was particularly good at enforcing his own security!