SP&T News

Practical Security: Addressing the labour shortage

March 6, 2024  By Roger Miller

Over the course of the past four to five years, challenges in society have created opportunities for security professionals in almost all disciplines of the industry.

Our ability, or our inability, to capitalize on these opportunities has been affected by the availability of labour and product to a large degree. What used to be simple became cumbersome.

Now that we are seeing the post-COVID light, some of our world has reverted to the era before the pandemic. Our business partners have inventory, our manufacturers can usually provide us an accurate ETA on orders, and there are new products rolling into the market. Life is good again! Or is it?

In almost every profession in Canada there is a labour shortage and the security industry is no different. At almost every business function I’ve attended over the past two years there is one common conversation – we can’t find staff.


Staff for every position is at a premium. From frontline labour to highly skilled field or administrative positions, there are not enough people to fill the jobs available. This isn’t strictly about wages. Large organizations with $100K jobs are struggling as much as entry-level positions. Doctors, nurses, police officers, teachers, truck drivers and almost every other field are not able to recruit enough qualified people. We have to direct our efforts in new ways. It means the cost of providing services will be higher, since shortages drive the cost of labour higher.

For company owners and managers who have been reluctant to move the needle on your billing rates for service, it is time. You cannot expect to retain qualified staff without being a competitive employer. You may not have to pay the most, but you have to know the local market and be competitive in your compensation package.

Wages and benefits are one aspect of recruiting; other aspects include working conditions, environment, safety and more. More than ever, employees have the ability to find a work-life balance and just being able to speak openly to their manager means a lot to them.

Now that we’ve established that offering a competitive compensation package with a strong work culture and safe environment is important, where do we find the people? This will entail looking outside of your normal recruiting sphere to find candidates who may not have all of the qualifications you are looking for. If we look at the traditional security systems installer, they either attended an electronics program or they were hired from a competitor. We need other strategies.

First, you have to identify the “must haves” on your list of requirements. Can they meet the physical demands of the job? Are they willing to start at the most basic level and work their way up? Would they represent your company the way you want them to?

There will always be employees in other fields that can learn new skills. Is it the person at the service station you frequent who isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty? What about the building maintenance person who might be looking for a change? Folks who are used to working with their hands, climbing ladders, and have a general aptitude for learning how to use those skills can be invaluable to us as new candidates. We just have to look outside the box to find them.

Once you find that new candidate, it is up to you to develop them by creating an internal program that fits your business. To facilitate this you will require a more senior person in your company who will spearhead the development with the new folks.

By using measurable steps it shouldn’t take long to have this new person at a functional level that will free up more senior resources for higher level tasks. Developing depth in your team takes longer, however doing nothing isn’t an option.

Roger Miller is the president of Northeastern Protection Service Inc. (www.protectionpartner.ca)

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