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  • Posted By Scott
  • |
  • Oct 08, 2023

Is it time for Ontario to move to graduated licensing for Security Guards? One size does not fit all.

Our question: is it time to follow the examples used by drivers (G1, G2, Full G), condominium managers (Limited and General), and others by adopting graduated licensing in the Security Industry?

Security, like many industries, has an educational component to it – when our clients contact us, they may not be aware exactly of what their security requirements are. They will, or in many cases should, look to their trusted security contractor to provide guidance on making sure that they are protected. What hinders this relationship is when there is a “one size fits all” attitude to security. In the industry, this is something known as “checking the box” – i.e. the only reason that we (security) are here is because someone is making them have security.

For many different reasons, this can be a valid thought, and we (as security professionals) may have done different things that have reinforced this perception – the fault is our own. One of these faults may be not training our guards in different security disciplines, and treating them all the same.

Our experience, all things being equal, is that there are currently 3 different categories of people in the security field:

At the first (or bottom) level are those that have been told that security is a low-pay, low effort position. This tends to attract either students that want to get paid to do their homework, or people looking to stream and entire season of TV shows during their shifts. We would wager that there is not one security company that has not received a complaint about “guards watching videos”. As a provider, you can usually spot this category of guard in advance, as they will ask if there is WIFI at their location and will bring laptops and textbooks to the site. At 3DSRS, we do our absolute best to manage expectations by advising our potential team members in the initial interview that we do expect security work out of them during the shift, and we reference the Cooper Colour Code of Situational Awareness.

The second level of guards may actually be a subset of the bottom level. These are guards who may or may not be students or have a full-time position in another industry. What sets them apart from the previous level is their work ethic and integrity. They realize that they are being paid to do a job and do so professionally. They may still be checking their phone or social media, but they do so in a manner that is secondary to their prime responsibility of protection of people, property and/or information. This set of guards is an invaluable asset to a company. A company can usually identify these team members by seeing who shows up for training and the quality of their reporting.

The last level of guards, which includes your writer, are the “lifers”. These are the team members that have chosen security (for better or worse) as their career. While at first glance, these would appear to be the ideal candidates for companies, this level is not without their challenges as well. Quite common is the “been there, done that, got the T-shirt” attitude. We have found that the teachability index for these guards can be lower than the other levels. A company can usually spot when this is starting to take place by noticing when a guard detaches from the company and reports more to the clients than to their supervisors. As this occurs, efforts should be made to incorporate the guard back into the company with additional training and responsibility.

If /until Ontario decides to incorporate graduated licensing to security, individual companies can incorporate their own levels (at 3DSRS, we call them Tiers) of security in order to assist their clients in determining their security requirements. By providing this information with proposals, it gives the client information and options to choose their level of protection. As a side benefit, it also manages the expectations of the capacity of the guards assigned.

From a company perspective, we have found the Tier level to be invaluable in determining the level of our current team, in setting the team up for success by putting them in a position consistent with their level of training, and in identifying leaders within our company. The higher up the tier, the more of a security multiplier they are and the higher level of security confidence they aspire.