Bob Forsyth – The future of our industry is in our hands

Bob Forsyth - Managing Director of MITIE Total Security Management
Bob Forsyth - Managing Director of MITIE Total Security Management

Bob Forsyth, the Managing Director of MITIE Total Security Management (TSM) introduces his tenth blog on Bob writes: “The future of the industry is now at a significant cross roads; one path will lead to an industry that struggles to be taken seriously and operates in a low margin environment that prevents progression in becoming a sector that we can be proud of. The other direction is an industry that has taken some bold steps and made changes that will cement the future of a professional sector valued by its security staff and customers able to build careers and offer opportunity.

“There is now a perfect storm of regulation, training, economic conditions, technical advances and margin erosion which are changing the way we have to think and work. The catalyst is the changing face of regulation, the future of the SIA and its change in direction, the ACS scheme, and the potential Hallmark scheme being debated. All are in a state of flux meaning the entire structure of the industry’s regulation is being shaped; within the next two years, whatever is agreed we will have to live with – good, bad or indifferent.

“With this restructure and renewal it’s also time to assess the skill set that our industry demands of its staff: is it fit for purpose? Do we need to focus on this area also to incorporate training on modern technology as standard? I believe our training standards must be raised and modernised moving towards a higher-skilled, technology-led future and our induction courses must also start to reflect this. Companies like mine have invested in key courses as part of a career development initiative but only standards that are set as minimum can raise the bar across the sector.

“We must also modernise the way we market ourselves in the industry; the word ‘guard’ is still used and is totally inappropriate for the industry and sectors we work in – we don’t guard people, property and assets, we secure them. Our staff are not guards, they are security officers. Terminology is important and the whole industry must start to embrace the change in mind-set as well as change in standards. Did you notice how the staff at the Olympics where called Games Makers not helpers or assistants!

“If we take securing the UK’s CNI, which is critical to keeping UK PLC operational, as an example, private security companies are vital but often not recognised for the crucial role we play and for the tremendous commitment of our people. This is where the industry needs to work together to ensure it is seen to add value and is an industry that is focussed on quality, standards and opportunity.

“Over the coming months, I will use this blog and my twitter feeds @BobTSM, to start laying out my vision of the future, and do what I can to lobby my senior colleagues in the sector to work with me in taking the industry from a guarding-focused, low-end purchase, to a risk-based, technology-driven industry that is seen as professional and one we can all be proud of.

“I am really keen to hear your views and start this debate to make it happen. We don’t have long before the future of the industry is agreed and the next cycle is started.”

MITIE Total Security Management Website