Staff Shortages Wrack Electronic Security Industry

♦ Staff Shortages Wrack Electronic Security Industry – Australian businesses are struggling with the worst staff shortages in memory, with around 425,000 job vacancies currently listed, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The country’s unemployment rate is at 3.9 per cent, the lowest in 50 years, while the working adult population is at a record high of 66.7 per cent. Meanwhile, Seek said trades were one of three sectors suffering critical staff shortages.

According to ABS, around a third of all businesses are struggling to fill vacancies, but it’s likely this figure rises significantly for electronic security integrators, security suppliers and security providers of all kinds.

At the heart of the issue for security people is that the industry was long a haven for the self-made, with a comparatively low entry threshold and rich rewards for the dedication of the self-taught. But the self-taught 12-volt techs of old have been forcibly reinvented into a beautiful thing apart.

In the face of an industry-wide digital transition security integrators pitching for ‘trainees’ who “have experience installing integrated electronic security systems, are skilled in networking, Tier 1 access control and video surveillance capabilities preferred” are living in a dreamy world.

Capable technicians at every level are in short supply and employer expectations of their value – 50-70k with a laptop and phone – are going to need to change things up significantly if they plan on attracting the sort of talent that balances the electronics, communications, software and IT needs of the modern integrated security solution.

No security integrator we spoke to wanted to go on record in relation to its ongoing struggle for staff but there was plenty said, with fingers pointed at industry organisations, training bodies, competitors, even the aspirations of prospective technicians themselves. In truth, everyone and no one is to blame. The industry is a victim of its SELV past and its tearaway digital evolution.

One Brisbane-based integrator told SEN that the challenge of finding staff had seen the business adopt a new strategy which sought an holistic work-life balance and actively strove to lead techs forward with training and support.

“The way we are meeting the challenge is by properly rewarding a core of senior technicians around which we are building a layer of capable and enthusiastic youngsters we are attracting from adjacent trades,” the integrator said.

“Plenty of kids love the high-tech world of modern security – they understand areas like software, communications and AI better than business managers do. But no matter what you offer, it’s not easy – there’s plenty of staff poaching going on and a lot of frustration with hiring staff who are simply not up to the complexities of security integration roles without significant training.

“And it’s always tempting for that ideal senior tech – the perfectionist self-starter, has high standards, trainer, a brilliant communicator, can deal effortlessly with customers, handle variable support from suppliers, do Tier 1 everything, troubleshoot complex integrations, reverse engineer a legacy network, etc – to pitch for a plum contract and go out on their own.”

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