The Real Solution To The Industry's Talent ShortageBy John Honovich, Published Jan 04, 2021, 08:19am EST
Recruit poor and working-class young people. This is the best solution to the industry's "talent shortage.'
In this essay, the successor to Debunking 'No One Grows Up Wanting To Be In The Security Industry', I argue for a realistic solution to the industry, based on my own experience managing an integrator and having successfully recruited many individuals into the industry from top universities.
Be Realistic - Recruit Poor and Working Class
Most jobs in the physical security industry (technician, guard, inside sales) offer average pay, prestige, and quality of life. Literally so. That's the problem, not that people just don't know how great it is.
The solution, therefore, is to lower the expectations for the credentials of people hired into the industry. The industry should focus on hiring people from poor and working-class backgrounds that did not have the opportunity to attend good 4-year universities. These people will be far more excited about the pay and opportunities of working as an integrator, reseller, guard provider, etc.
Moreover, this is ethically just as it will give opportunities to people that need them and, in the process, increases the ethnic and racial diversity of the industry.
Fool's Game To Increase The Prestige Of The Industry
The industry should not, as it often wants, somehow convince the public that working in the industry is so great or some sort of hidden gem. While a small percentage of industry jobs offer the fundamentals that attract high credential young people that have many options, most industry jobs do not.
Trying to do so is wrong, a waste of money, and simply a fool's game to try to trick young people to think the industry is better than what it is. Most will easily see through it, the few that actually join will likely leave within a few years as they realize the limitations of the industry.
Watch the video, please:
That guy (played by Artie Lang above) is like the physical security industry.
The main element I differ is the implication that 'lowered expectations' means worse people or worse results. More appropriate expectations make for a better outcome for all involved.
My Integrator Experience
When I was the GM of an expanding security integrator in the 2000s, I had to hire a number of entry-level techs paying only $13 - $15 an hour. It was obvious to me that, despite being an Ivy League graduate, there was no way I was going to be able to hire talented 4-year college graduates into such roles at such pay. It was also completely unnecessary.
Hiring Trade School or High School Grads
We hired ~10 people who either graduated from 2-year trade schools or people with no higher education we found from local connections. They were happy with the pay and opportunity, especially coming from modest backgrounds and more limited opportunities. We were happy with their productivity and eagerness to develop their careers. In particular, we found a number of people who would have easily excelled at 4-year universities if they had the chance to do so. Rather than trying to convince someone who went to USC or NYU, etc., we had people who easily did a comparable job and were much happier doing so.
Why Work For You?
The flip side of hiring high credential young people with many opportunities is that they are unlikely to tolerate the mediocre management common in this industry. As an integrator, I worked for an owner that might have graduated from college but if he did he either majored in surfing or partying. His main contribution was to confidently tell clients what they wanted to hear, whether or not it was accurate.
If you are one of these security industry 'leaders' that want to hire high credential young people, you need to ask yourself - what do you offer these people? Why, long term, would they want to work for you?
Address Inequality And Cost Of College
Two of the biggest social issues today are increasing economic inequality and the high cost of college. Having the physical security industry focus on hiring people from poor and working-class backgrounds benefits both parties. These people often have the talent and drive to be highly productive but not the money and opportunity to spend hundreds of thousands on 4-year colleges. Moreover, especially with the increase in online education, most of what is taught in average 4-year programs are either irrelevant or able to be learned online for the needs of most physical security jobs.
Back to Top